Minaret ban mastermind rejects Nazi comparison

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.

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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