SVP probed for anti-Kosovar campaign
Meritxell Mir · 21 Oct 2011, 11:22
Published: 21 Oct 2011 12:25 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Oct 2011 11:22 GMT+02:00
Public officials received the criminal complaint on October 14th from the lawyers of two Kosovar residents in Switzerland, who argue that the SVP ad discriminated against an entire ethnic group.
The ad entitled "Kosovars slash the Swiss" described an incident which took place on August 15th at the Interlaken tourist resort in the Bernese Alps.
According to news reports, a Kosovar man attempted to kill a Swiss Alpine wrestler by cutting his throat with a knife. The man was having a drink on a terrace in Interlaken when he got into a verbal dispute with two Kosovar men.
Some newspapers refused to publish the ad in its original form but agreed to go to press with a toned down version that read: "A Kosovar slashes a Swiss". However, the original ad has been widely distributed online by the SVP as part of its "Stop mass immigration" initiative. It can still be found on the homepage of the party’s expulsion initiative for criminal immigrants.
The ad does not seem to have bothered SVP supporters: in just two and a half months, the party managed to collect 120,000 signatures, more than enough to take the initiative to the polling stations.
The SVP is not worried about justice authorities investigating the matter because, it claims, the advert merely recounted a real situation. The general secretary of the far-right party, Martin Baltiser, told 20minutes that the criminal complaint has no basis.
The ad was widely criticized on its launch by the Kosovar community in Switzerland, left-wing political parties and the Catholic Church. The Conference of Swiss Bishops accused the party and the media of instigating "hatred" against Kosovars.
Switzerland is home to around 200,000 people with roots in the former Yugoslavia, making them the third largest immigrant group behind Italians and Germans.