Muslims Pose no ‘threat’ to Switzerland
Bern: Following the controversial debate on integration and assimilation of Islam in Switzerland, which led to the legal passing of a right-wing initiative of the populist SVP party against the construction of minarets in the country in 2009, three postulates requested obtaining further information upon the state of affairs of the Muslim community in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Council subsequently charged the Ministry of Federal Justice and Police to write a report on the community, which was released last fortnight. The report qualifies the diverse Swiss Muslim community as posing no ‘threat’ to the country, whose integration is slowed down rather by ‘linguistic and socio-cultural barriers than questions of religious order’. No ‘specific measures’ are to be taken to ‘better integrate’ the Muslim communities of the country, the Ministry concluded. The report indicates that the Muslim population of the country has remained demographically stable in the last 10 years. Whereas in 2000, 3.6% of the Swiss population identified as Muslim, in 2010 it was 4.5.%. Amongst the Swiss Muslim population, those who are practising are numbered as a small minority (only 15%). Accordingly, the Federal Council underlines that ‘severe problems’ of the religious groups and its members only occur in exceptional circumstances and are often dependant on the individual rather than the group or a Muslim organisation. In only few rare cases, imams have attempted to impose extremist ideas in mosques, whereas only a dozen of mosques in the country are believed to be subject to extremist interpretations of Islam. What the government report, also reveals is the existence and prevalence of an intersection of discrimination faced by the country’s Muslim population. Being both ‘foreign’ and Muslim puts members of the 3,50,000-4,00,000 strong community in positions of increased vulnerability to discrimination, harassment and hate crimes on the basis of racism and xenophobia.