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Swiss Jewish group slams Hitler salute ruling

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Swiss Jewish group slams Hitler salute ruling
Photo: AFP
09:57 CEST+02:00
The Swiss federation of Jewish communities (SIG) has condemned a Swiss supreme court decision that making a Nazi salute in public is not necessarily contrary to the law in Switzerland.

“We are of the view that it should be banned in public,” Herbert Winter, chairman of SIG (Schweizerischer Israelitischer Gemeindebund) said on Thursday when the group held an assembly in Biel.

“We have difficulty understanding the narrow interpretation of the (court),” Winter told the gathering, the ATS news agency reported.

The Lausanne-based court recently acquitted a neo-Nazi who made a Hitler salute at a rally of right-wing nationalists in the canton of Uri in August 2010.

The court ruled on appeal that making such a salute — lifting an arm up into the air at an angle of 45 degrees with a straight hand — is not punishable unless the person involved is proven to be “spreading racist ideology”.

The incident took place at Rütli, a mountain meadow on Lake Lucerne, where federal government politicians traditionally give speeches to celebrate the Swiss national holiday on August 1, a day that commemorates the country’s origins in 1291.

The Jewish federation also deplored the fact that certain circles regularly call for the abolition of the criminal law against racism.

“We refuse to accept that Switzerland is a state where you can publicly and with impunity deny the Shoah (the Holocaust), treat immigrants from the Balkans as gangsters or class all muslims as terrorists,” Winter said.

The fight against anti-Semitism and racism is a major commitment for the federation.

Winter called on the Swiss government to do more to counter these problems, particularly through public awareness campaigns aimed at young people.

Apart from its promotion of integration of foreigners the government does very little in this area, he said.

The SIG noted that reported cases of anti-Semitism had been relatively few in Switzerland for several years, unlike in certain countries in the European Union.

A survey released earlier this month by the Anti-Defamation League, however, found that more than one on four (26 percent) of people surveyed in Switzerland held anti-Semitic views.

This was based on respondents answering “probably true” to at least six statements in a questionnaire regarded as “anti-Semitic stereotypes”.

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