Switzerland’s biggest party fined for racist campaigning

CHRISTIAN BRUN

A placard of Swiss right wing party Schweizerische Volkspartei SVP in an 2011 campaign against immigration. The poster reads "Kosovars slash the Swiss" and was part of the successful campaign that resulted in the February 2014 referendum to limit immigration from the EU

Switzerland’s biggest party fined for racist campaigning


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Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court in Lausanne found the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) guilty of violating the country’s anti-racism laws.

It depicts shoes stepping over the Swiss flag with the inscription “Kosovars slash Swiss.”

The Court fined the party’s former Secretary General, Martin Baltisser, €21,500. The ruling said the poster depicted Kosovars “as inferior” while conveying the idea that people of Kosovo “are not welcome.” In effect, Switzerland’s Supreme Court upheld an earlier decision taken by a lower tribunal which ruled that the poster “fulfills fundamental conditions of discrimination and disparagement and the call to hate or discrimination.”

The Zurich prosecutor initiated the case in 2012, following a public complaint by two Kosovar nationals. According to SVP, the poster was based on a real incident, in which a single Kosovar man attempted to kill a Swiss Alpine wrestler with a knife in August 2011 near the Bernese Alps.

From a single case, SVP then proceeded with vilifying a whole ethnic group. In a statement, SVP claims the ruling infringes on freedom of expression, “silencing unwelcome political opponents.”

SVP has managed to become the biggest parliamentary group in Switzerland, with two seats in the seven-member executive. Switzerland’s biggest party is infamous for a number of controversial campaigns, using fear to rally public sentiment against immigrants and Muslims, including EU citizens.

epa01628300 A placard of Swiss right wing party Schweizerische Volkspartei SVP against the extension of accord with the European Union on open labour market in Lausanne, Switcherland, 08 February 2009. Swiss voters are deciding whether to allow more European Union citizens into its labour market. Voters are deciding whether to extend an existing agreement covering 25 EU member states and controversially whether to include new members Romania and Bulgaria. First trends show supporters by 57 per cent ahead. EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUN

A placard of Swiss right wing party Schweizerische Volkspartei SVP against the extension of accord with the European Union on open labour market in Lausanne, Switcherland, 08 February 2009. Swiss voters are deciding whether to allow more European Union citizens into its labour market. Voters are deciding whether to extend an existing agreement covering 25 EU member states and controversially whether to include new members Romania and Bulgaria. First trends show supporters by 57 per cent ahead. EPA/CHRISTIAN BRUN

epa01890587 A poster, which shows a woman in a burka and a Swiss flag with minarets springing out of it, is being used by the rightwing People's Party (SVP) in its anti-minaret campaign and has triggered controversy in Switzerland. Cities around Switzerland have reacted differently. While Lausanne, Montreux, Fribourg and Yverdon-les-Bains followed Basel in outlawing the posters in publicly owned spaces, Geneva, Zurich, Winterthur and Lucerne have rejected the ban on free-speech grounds. EPA/SVP DATABASE, HANDOUT, NO SALES,

A poster, which shows a woman in a burka and a Swiss flag with minarets springing out of it, is being used by the rightwing People’s Party (SVP) in its anti-minaret campaign and has triggered controversy in Switzerland. Cities around Switzerland have reacted differently. While Lausanne, Montreux, Fribourg and Yverdon-les-Bains followed Basel in outlawing the posters in publicly owned spaces, Geneva, Zurich, Winterthur and Lucerne have rejected the ban on free-speech grounds. EPA/SVP DATABASE, HANDOUT, NO SALES,

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