Switzerland's own anti-Muslim campaign

The Swiss People’s Party (one of the most powerful parties in Switzerland) has recently launched a campaign against easier naturalization of third-generation foreigners. This is one of the billboards:

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People’s Party campaign, photo by Newsnetz. Note the nazi color scheme.

As a Swiss person, I am way more afraid of the old white men behind this campaign than I am of that hypothetical woman behind her niqab.

These men have in the past:

  • Weakened our education by cutting funding.
  • Managed to make the building of minarets illegal while building Christian churches and Jewish synagogues is still legal.
  • Supported not one but two new laws that undermine privacy, increase surveillance and allow remote wiretapping of Swiss citizens and others on pure suspicion, without a court order. These laws are BÜPF and NDG.
  • Are now supporting another new law that reduces taxes for large corporations while increasing them for individuals, the Corporate Tax Reform Act III.

And they are mostly men. Only 11 of their 65 seats in the national council are under the butts of women.

As a reaction to their billboards I would love to see an interview with a third-generation foreigner who likes to wear the niqab, but I’m pretty sure you won’t find one. The only person I am aware of in Switzerland who even wears a niqab is Swiss through and through: Nora Illi. On the right in this picture as you can surely guess:

Anne Will
Photo by Spiegel/WDR

But since she’s had Swiss citizenship since birth, I guess that won’t be a problem for our geniuses at the People’s Party, eh?

0 thoughts on “Switzerland's own anti-Muslim campaign”

  1. When I look at photos of women in the streets of Iran years ago, in the 1970’s perhaps, the women look like those of any Western country and they seemed to have very public voices– gathering with their faces showing to protest this or that. I am not saying that everyone needs to be “Western” in their dress or thinking, it is important that we question other cultures and cultural behaviors so that we do not fall into the pitfall of cultural relativism thinking every way is on par with any other.

    Once I loved the Japanese culture so much that I tried to become the best Japanese wife I could. In doing so, I altered my mannerism and my thinking changed. But it was not in a good way. It was not good for me, and ultimately I realized there was a serious problem with the way women in Japan were behaving in their relationships with men. It goes very deep.

    So while I believe in the right of the woman to practice her culture where she was born and anywhere else, I would openly challenge anything that seems detrimental to her humanity, children and her womanhood. We should think through and not blindly accept. Maybe the old Swiss men are trying to say that they see something critically wrong, but are going about it in a rather unkind way.

    1. I think I get what you’re saying. I know a tiny bit about the position of women in Japanese culture (well, I watched a documentary about gropers, child prostitutes and the struggle of Japanese businesswomen in the 90s). I cringe when I see some mangas (and not just hentai). Also, an acquaintance is Iranian and she has told stories about the past in Iran, so I had a glimpse of that. The steps backward that Iran has taken are horrible for its entire society, that is true.

      But I haven’t witnessed the hypothetical problems the People’s Party is conjuring. Out of three Muslim women I know, one has only recently arrived in Switzerland from a Muslim country, and she doesn’t wear a niqab or a hijab. None of them do. But they could if they wanted to. And it’s only their children’s children (third-generation immigrants) who would profit from the law.

      If a woman veils herself be because she’s being oppressed, that is another matter entirely, but we won’t solve this problem just by banning the outward signs of her oppression. We have to get rid of the inner reasons for the oppression, pluck them out by the root. That is a long road and will require a lot of dialog with many men (again, men) who are perhaps unwilling to listen and caught in a cultural and religious trap, just like Japanese men were for a long time, or still are. Hell, Switzerland still doesn’t have equal pay for women, still doesn’t have a decent number of women in leadership positions. We have our own homework to do before we try to teach newcomers to our culture.

      What irks me about this campaign is that the law on the billboard is not about burqas or niqabs at all. It is not about equal rights. It has nothing to do with oppressing women, it is only about removing some bureaucratic hurdles around the naturalization of third-generation foreigners. But the People’s Party makes it look like naturalizing people more easily will automatically introduce — what? A different culture? Islamist terror? Veiled women that blow themselves up at Bern train station? I don’t think it will.

      Hell, you have to be more Swiss than most Swiss people to even pass the naturalization exams. You will be speaking perfect French/Swiss-German/Italian/Rumantsch if you are a third-generation foreigner. If trends continue chances are high you’ve even dropped your original religion completely and are now officially non-religious. I just don’t see the problem here. By the way, the state doesn’t even differentiate between Muslim and non-Muslim. It depends on the canton, but all you can choose from is usually Jewish, Christian reformed, Christian Catholic, Christian Old Catholic or “other/irreligious”.

      So in case the blog post left too much unsaid: It is in no way about supporting the oppression of women. Whether that oppression happens on a cultural, religious or simply being-an-asshole level. It’s often a mix of all three, I guess.

      You are right that preserving some hard-earned rights is important and I would very much hope that some of these white old men have launched the campaign with that in mind, instead of simple fearmongering. But because the motif of the campaign is so disconnected from the content, I still don’t like it. I prefer it when politicians use facts instead of emotions and Nazi color schemes to drive their point home. Though to be fair, even our socialist parties have made use of those Nazi colors in the campaign against the Corporate Tax Reform 🙁

      It would be interesting to talk to the People’s Party about how to solve problems of integration and cultural assimilation, but usually they are not willing to discuss any actual topics.

      1. It sounds quite imbalanced, but on the other hand many countries have gone to far with relativism. I disagree with the poster approach for it targeting women of the culture instead of perhaps the underlying issues of repression. In fact the posters almost feed it. Thank you very much for your thoughtful reply.

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