Terror attacks in the news and the political influence of right-wing parties have also contributed to damaging the reputation of Muslim immigrants, who are often labelled as extremists.
“During the last few years, there has been an oversimplification that presents Muslims as a danger to Switzerland,” said the authors of the study, carried out by the Swiss National Science Foundation.
The newly published report analyzed coverage of Muslim issues by Swiss media through the years. The research found that, in public debate, followers of Islam are perceived as a “bloc” and as a “threat” to Switzerland, even if they have nothing to do with fundamentalism.
Despite coming from different countries – such as Turkey, Macedonia and Morocco – and practising their religion in different ways, they are often considered part of the same ethnic group, it said.
The study found Swiss media coverage was in general one-sided, especially during the 2009 national minaret ban vote and the ensuing debate, with opponents receiving more media attention than those who were in favour.
Similarly, the conservative Swiss People’s Party, known for its controversial and often provocative stances, has contributed to creating a negative collective image of Muslim migrants, who are often referred to as “violent” or “ignorant,” the study said.