3 Pages


ByJames A. Clapp

Istanbul was Constantinople. In its origin and development, Islam was something of an urban phenomenon. Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, was the principal city of the Arabian peninsula. Islam encouraged congregational prayer. The Friday prayer had to be offered in a mosque, which was not normally found in villages. So the faithful were obliged to journey to the nearest town. Although Zurich exceeds the normal dimensions of a Swiss town by all standards, it has preserved the characteristic political and constitutional make-up of a Swiss commune: namely far reaching autonomy and a pronounced democratization of public life. The structure of the city of Zurich demonstrates, as do most political and constitutional bodies in Switzerland, the tendency to strike a balance between the opposites, to unite divergent wishes in a middle solution. A way has been sought to reconcile the direct communal democracy handed down from the past with the exigencies of a modern city.