Switzerland: Council of Europe attacks racism

Switzerland: Council of Europe attacks racism

Racism is widespread in Switzerland, despite authorities' continuing efforts to end discrimination, a Council of Europe commission has found.

A report highlights problems of direct racial discrimination in gaining access to employment, housing, goods and services. The victims are mainly Muslims and originate from the Balkans, Turkey and Africa.

The findings published on Tuesday in a report compiled by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), chart the progress made by Switzerland in implementing recommendations for action in curbing racism made in 2004.

Anti-racism bodies within Switzerland mainly agreed with the findings, but the report was lambasted by the rightwing Swiss People's Party, which was singled out for criticism for promoting racist generalisations.

On the plus side, the ECRI noted that various measures had been taken to foster the integration of immigrants in areas such as employment, housing and health. State bodies for anti-racism and migration had continued to raise awareness of racism and racial discrimination and steps had been taken to combat rightwing extremism.

However, it noted there had been a dangerous growth of racist political discourse against foreign nationals, Muslims, blacks and other minorities. The ECRI found the Swiss People's Party to be part of the problem, saying the party had taken on a "racist and xenophobic tone" in recent years, leading to racist generalisations.

"Repeated attacks by Swiss People's Party members against foreigners' fundamental rights and against the prohibition of racism and xenophobia have created a deep sense of unease in Swiss society generally and especially in minority communities," the report said.

Immigrant children have disadvantages in education, some Swiss media have reinforced racist stereotypes, and neo-Nazi and far-right groups have been active in the country.


Source: SwissInfo (English)

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