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SVP ad ruled racist by Swiss supreme court

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SVP ad ruled racist by Swiss supreme court
Logo: SVP
14:00 CEST+02:00
The Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne has found former leading members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) guilty of racism over a poster used in its mass immigration initiative campaign in 2011.

It upheld an earlier ruling that former SVP secretary-general Martin Baltisser and his deputy Silvia Bär violated anti-racism laws with an advert claiming that “Kosovars slash the Swiss”, according to media reports.

The advertisement claiming that “Kosovars slash the Swiss” was used as part of the SVP’s campaign in its successful 'stop mass immigration' initiative.

The initiative was approved by voters in February 2014.

Newspaper advert: SVP

In its ruling, the Federal Court judges found that the advert stirred up public sentiment against people from Kosoo.

The country’s top judges said that most readers would have understood the advert as portraying Kosovars as more violent than other nationalities and therefore undeserving of residency in Switzerland.

But the court was not unanimous in its verdict, with two of the five judges disagreeing that anti-racism laws were flouted.

Baltisser told the Blick newspaper he was “disappointed” at the verdict.

“We were convicted for an advert that depicted a real event. It is amazing that this is a criminal offence in the age of fake news.”

A Zurich prosecutor initiated criminal proceedings against the leading SVP figures in 2012 after two Kosovar nationals made public complaints about the advert on the grounds that it discriminated against an entire ethnic group.

The ad alluded to an incident, which took place on August 15th 2011 in Interlaken, a tourist resort in the Bernese Alps.

According to news reports at the time, a Kosovar man attempted to kill a Swiss Alpine wrestler by cutting his throat with a knife.

 

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