SHARE
COPY LINK

RACISM

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite ‘racist’ ties

A Swiss town on Wednesday refused to rename the Agassizhorn mountain despite its namesake's espousal of racist views.

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite 'racist' ties
Switzerland's Agassizhorn. Image: Creative Commons

The 19th century Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz was known for research into fish, fossils and glaciers, but he has also been criticised in recent years for defending racist ideas.

After emigrating to the United States in 1846, Agassiz argued for racial segregation and hierarchies, and fiercely attacked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

IN PICTURES: Powerful images from anti-racism protests across Switzerland 

But mayor of the town of Grindelwald, Beat Bucher, disagreed with those who wanted to change the peak's name, saying: “We cannot erase the stains of history.”

In a reference to the central Swiss summit, Bucher added: “It is better to accept it with its positive and negative aspects.”

The mountain peak, at just under 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) is shared by two other municipalities, Guttannen and Fieschertal, which had already rejected a bid to rename it.

A fresh effort was made after the killing in late May of George Floyd, an African American asphyxiated by a white police officer, generated a global wave of revulsion against racist symbols.

A similar push to rename the mountain was rejected in 2007. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLICE

Swiss police clear months-long quarry protest

Swiss police on Tuesday swooped down on environmental protesters who have been occupying a quarry owned by Franco-Swiss cement giant LafargeHolcim for months to protest against its plans to expand the site.

Swiss police clear months-long quarry protest
Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

A large contingent of police, many in riot gear, descended on the Mormont site in La Sarraz in the western canton of Vaud early Tuesday, asking the some 200 activists to leave or be removed by force.

The activists set up camp at the site in October, warning of the environmental and ecological consequences of Lafarge-Holcim’s plans to expand the quarry.

The company and the La Sarraz municipality had filed legal petitions to remove the activists, and the police operation came after the protesters’ legal appeals were rejected.

The move to clear the outer limits of the camp went off peacefully, but as the officers went towards a farmhouse at the centre, some protesters threw rocks and threw fireworks, an AFP photographer said.

“It is a high-anxiety situation. But we want to stick it out as long as possible,” one of the demonstrators told the ATS-Keystone news agency shortly before being evacuated by police.

The regional police said one police officer had been slightly wounded but none of the activists were injured.

By evening, police had detained 29 people, 12 of whom were taken into custody in nearby Lausanne.

A number of the activists remained up in trees or on the farmhouse roof, singing and shouting slogans against LafargeHolcim.

SHOW COMMENTS