Swiss mag in racism row over Roma child shooter

Swiss news magazine Weltwoche is facing angry accusations of racism in the German-speaking world after publishing a front page picture of a gun-toting child with a headline that warns of a looming Roma crime wave.

Swiss mag in racism row over Roma child shooter
Die Weltwoche Screenshot

Switzerland’s Federal Commission against Racism is considering whether to take action against the magazine after a number of complaints were filed for the alleged violation of anti-racism laws. 

In its latest edition, the magazine’s cover features a small child pointing a gun at the reader, with the caption, “The Roma are coming: Plunder in Switzerland”.

Reacting to what they view as flagrant racism, readers in Switzerland, Austria and Germany have all been in contact with the relevant authorities to report the magazine for inciting hatred. 

In an open letter, Switzerland’s Young Greens have accused the magazine of being “wildly off the mark” by appearing to equate the Roma people with criminality. 

“It is hurtful and demeaning,” the letter concluded.

An Austrian journalist, Klaus Kamolz, has accused the magazine of inciting racial hatred, while a Swiss woman from Basel Land has claimed that the publication breaches Swiss anti-racism laws. A lawsuit has also been instigated in Germany, Tages Anzeiger reported.

But Weltwoche deputy editor and article co-author, Philipp Gut, said he does not understand the furious reaction.

“Roma bands use their children for criminal purposes,” he said. “The real scandal is that none of those who are outraged are doing anything about this abuse.”

The controversial picture was taken by Italian photographer, Livio Mancini, in 2008 at a rubbish dump in Kosovo. The image was obtained through an agency and he had no control over its use, he told Tages Anzeiger.

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Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite ‘racist’ ties

A Swiss town on Wednesday refused to rename the Agassizhorn mountain despite its namesake's espousal of racist views.

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite 'racist' ties
Switzerland's Agassizhorn. Image: Creative Commons

The 19th century Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz was known for research into fish, fossils and glaciers, but he has also been criticised in recent years for defending racist ideas.

After emigrating to the United States in 1846, Agassiz argued for racial segregation and hierarchies, and fiercely attacked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

IN PICTURES: Powerful images from anti-racism protests across Switzerland 

But mayor of the town of Grindelwald, Beat Bucher, disagreed with those who wanted to change the peak's name, saying: “We cannot erase the stains of history.”

In a reference to the central Swiss summit, Bucher added: “It is better to accept it with its positive and negative aspects.”

The mountain peak, at just under 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) is shared by two other municipalities, Guttannen and Fieschertal, which had already rejected a bid to rename it.

A fresh effort was made after the killing in late May of George Floyd, an African American asphyxiated by a white police officer, generated a global wave of revulsion against racist symbols.

A similar push to rename the mountain was rejected in 2007.