Religion and Politics
Europe is progressing to become socially conservative, with many European states seeking to reduce the flow of immigration in their territories. The recent referendum in Switzerland that voted in favour, by a mere margin of 0.4 percent, to reduce immigration has been highly controversial across the international community. While the right-wing Swiss People’s Party argues that it will benefit the Swiss economy in the long-run it cannot be ignored that conservative, discriminating and xenophobic views have been a major factor in the decision to limit immigration.
It is not surprising that the Swiss are following a path of isolation, as the Swiss have already been at the forefront of limiting and restricting, even as far as discriminating religious and ethnic minorities. In 2009, the Swiss have voted in favour of a ban of the construction of minarets, which sparked widespread controversy. The Vatican claims that the ban infringes on religious freedom while Swiss Catholic bishops regret the decision, saying that the Swiss People’s Party exaggerated the “alleged threat posed by Muslims”. The sentiment that Switzerland will be flooded with minarets and Muslims is inherently unfounded and ignorant.
The German political satire show Extra 3 presented a picture that shows the Swiss football national team, which has players of multicultural background erased, leaving only three “pure” Swiss players. Modernity in Switzerland is reflected in multiculturalism. Unlike in Canadian society, where multiculturalism is constitutionally protected, Switzerland questions whether multiculturalism is possible. It is important to mention that the Swiss state exists already for more than 700 years, with myths and legends emerging from national heroes and patriots such as Wilhelm Tell.
Swiss society has accepted the idea that they are at the heart of Europe and that people travel through the state on a daily base. The size of its territory, however, makes it difficult for the Swiss to accept that a foreigner is to enter their little mountainous home, especially from a Muslim state. It also makes it difficult for Swiss conservatives to accept a changing social landscape that increasingly depicts non-Swiss and non-Christian people.
The conservatives, more specifically the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, took it upon themselves to protect the Swiss culture that they feel is in danger of being eliminated. The referendum to restrict immigration as well as banning the construction of minarets exists to protect themselves from outsiders. Muslims in Switzerland are not only singled out because of their differing beliefs from Western and liberal values, but also because of the fear of the Swiss of outsiders and strangers.