Minaret ban mastermind rejects Nazi comparison

Swiss People’s Party politician Barbara Steinemann has shot back at critics of her plan to launch an initiative calling for social welfare statistics to reflect whether a Swiss is native or naturalized.

Minaret ban mastermind rejects Nazi comparison

The Zurich cantonal councillor said she was undeterred by the fact that parliament had previously rejected an idea she said would enable the authorities to better analyze the consequences of naturalization.

She also told newspaper Tages Anzeiger that comparisons made in recent days between her views and the Nazis only served to distract from the fact that new citizens were over-represented in crime statistics.

Steinemann accused the Tages Anzeiger of being the main culprit behind the comparisons with the Nazi regime and refuted any claim that the Swiss People’s Party was imitating distinctions between Aryan and non-Aryan.

People were too quick to reach for references to the Third Reich, she said, describing the Nazi era as “the worst time Europe had ever gone through, the darkest chapter.”

“Just because others have put forward a terrible ideology based on purity does not mean that such distinctions should be taboo for a hundred years,” she told her interviewer.

In general, she said, the Swiss People’s Party wanted to be confronted with arguments rather than insinuations.

Steinemann pointed to an incident where a man with a previous criminal conviction was naturalized shortly before he went on to stab someone. This, she said, was the reason why she was calling for the distinction to be made when statistics are quoted.

The statistics already record whether a person is a man or a woman, a tenant or a homeowner, and include details on salary and professional competence.

“I do not understand the fuss,” Steinemann said.

The 36-year-old politician is recognized in Switzerland as one of the foremost architects of a highly controversial ban on the construction of minarets.

In 2006, Steinemann spearheaded a successful anti-minaret campaign in Zurich, three years before voters backed a referendum to ban the building of new minarets in Switzerland.

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The decision to re-open Switzerland’s borders is ‘incomprehensible’, says Swiss People’s party

The right-wing group says the government’s plan to start recruiting foreign workers from June 8th and re-open its borders with Germany, Austria and France from June 15th, is detrimental to Switzerland’s future.

The decision to re-open Switzerland's borders is 'incomprehensible', says Swiss People's party
The SVP is against Switzerland opening its borders to the EU. Photo by AFP

In response to the Federal Council’s announcement about the easing of travel and employment restrictions as of June 8th, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP / UDC) said on its website that it “demands the maintenance of strict border controls”. 

“The decision to restore the free movement of people and to abolish border controls is an affront to the Swiss who find themselves unemployed because of the Covid-19 pandemic”, the SVP said in a press release.

It added that even though “almost two million people, more than a third of all Swiss workers, are on short-time work and more than 150,000 have lost their jobs, the Federal Council wants to bring even more foreign workers into Switzerland”.

READ MORE: Switzerland relaxes work and residency restrictions: What does this mean for foreigners?

It goes on to argue that “following the sharp increase in unemployment in all neighbouring countries, Switzerland will inevitably suffer an additional influx of immigrants that cannot be arrested because of the free movement of people”.

“In addition, the number of people entering Switzerland illegally will again increase due to the opening of borders”, the SVP said.

Even before the latest government announcement about the re-opening of borders, the SVP, the largest of Switzerland’s political parties, had been campaigning for the end of the Swiss-EU agreement on free movement of people, and against immigration in general.

In its press release, the party reiterated its long-held position that foreigners “have come to settle in our small country to work or take advantage of our social system”. 

On September 27, the Swiss will vote on the SVP-sponsored initiative, seeking to curb EU immigration into Switzerland and allowing Switzerland to set its own migration quotas. 

The referendum was originally scheduled to be held on May 17th, but had to be postponed until September due to the Covid-19 pandemic.