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Right-wing MP calls for ban on Muslim refugees

Malcolm Curtis · 9 Jan 2015, 11:44

Published: 09 Jan 2015 11:44 GMT+01:00

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Walter Wobmann, Swiss People’s Party (SVP) MP from Solothurn, is demanding that Muslim asylum seekers from Iraq and Syria be denied entry into Switzerland, according to an online report from Blick.

Wobmann believes that it is only a matter of time before the Swiss will be faced with an attack from Muslim extremists, although his views have been sharply criticized by other politicians.

This position is “unacceptable”, said Carlo Sommaruga, federal MP from Geneva and a member of the socialist party.

“It’s discriminatory, resolves nothing and contributes to an atmosphere of hate and witch hunting,” Martine Brunschwig Graf, head of the federal commission against racism, is quoted as saying by the Tribune de Genève.

Brunschwig Graf, former president of the Geneva cantonal government, warned against such “mixed-up” reactions following the killings of staff at the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday that left 12 people dead.

French police on Friday were tracking two Muslim extremist suspects in connection with the massacre, apparently motivated by the magazine’s lampooning of Muslim fundamentalism.

Wobmann accused the Swiss government of “naivety” in its approach toward Muslim extremists and criticized in particular transport and environment minister Doris Leuthard for a comment she made on Twitter.

Leuthard condemned the Paris attack but then she went on to say: “Satire is not a free pass,” in an apparent reference to Charlie Hebdo.

The cabinet minister later tried to backtrack with a further tweet, suggesting there was a “misunderstanding” about what she was trying to say.

“I’m shocked by the attack,” she said, adding “press freedom is a fundamental right! Nothing justifies the attack.”


Wobmann said radical Islam was a danger for a free Switzerland and the spread of Islamism must be combatted, according to the Blick report.

He said there was a danger that the most dangerous terrorists could smuggle themselves into the country through requests for asylum.

But members of his own party distanced themselves from Wobmann’s call for a specific ban on certain asylum seekers.

“We don’t need to fall into this debate without end,” said Claude-Alain Voiblet, an SVP MP from the canton of Vaud said.

Voiblet said Switzerland is not an “island of security” and should be prepared for similar attacks as the one in Paris but through a “very precise analysis of the situation”.

Wobmann's proposal also comes at a time when other politicians are seeking support to admit 100,000 refugees into Switzerland from war-torn Syria.

Meanwhile, Muslim officials in Switzerland said they were shocked by what happened in Paris and they issued statements condemning the attack.

“It’s an abominable crime that stains with blood all of France and puts families in mourning by putting democracy and freedom in danger,” Hafid Ouardiri, former spokesman for the Geneva mosque told The Tribune de Genève.

Hasni Abidi, director of the Geneva-based centre for studies and research into the Arabic and Mediterranean world, made similar comments to the newspaper.

“It’s an unthinkable act, the determination of the culprits and their wish to kill are awful,” he said.

“They want to sow terror, shut up those who are upsetting and divide the French.”

Story continues below…

Abidi had earlier criticized Charlkie Hebdo for its caricatures of Muhammed published in 2006 but he said the killers should “certainly” punished before stigmatizing and lumping together all Muslims.

Nicolas Blancho, head of the Swiss Islamic Council, said in at statement that he was “shocked by this brutal attack”.

The council said it understood the discontent spread by the “repeated provocations” of Charlie Hebdo but that this “does not justify the use of violence”.

The council said “rigid security measures must not replace social coexistence in mutual tolerance, far from discrimination and targeted provocation”.

Follow the latest developments here as police in French track two suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack.


For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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