Swiss Islamophobes use ‘mass immigration’ referendum to push anti-Muslim line

Egerkingen Committee anti-Muslim posterOn 9 February the Swiss electorate will vote in a referendum on a proposal to reintroduce immigration quotas. The initiative, “against mass immigration”, by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party has been gaining ground, with an opinion poll last month finding 43% support for the proposal, up 6% since December. Le Temps has reported that other right-wing forces backing the initiative have seized the opportunity to promote their own rabidly Islamophobic agenda.

The Egerkingen Committee, which co-ordinated the successful campaign for a “yes” vote in the 2009 referendum over a proposed ban on minarets, is using the current anti-immigration campaign to denounce the threat of “creeping Islamisation”, warning against a “massive increase in the Muslim population” that would alter the “essence of Switzerland”. It has produced a poster that recycles the image of a woman wearing a full veil previously used in the anti-minaret campaign and predicts that there will soon be a million Muslims in Switzerland.

Daniel Zingg of the right-wing Protestant party the Federal Democratic Union recently declared at a press conference that Islam is not just a religion but “primarily a political system that is in opposition to our legal system”. He also advanced a theory according to which the number of Muslims determines the Islamisation of society. Zingg asserted that when Muslims make up 2-3% of the population, they begin to propagate their religion. From 4-5%, they begin to exert a “disproportionate influence” by demanding, for example, halal food. And when the number becomes greater, they attempt to gain the right to govern themselves according to Sharia.

However, this Islamophobic progaganda has not proved universally popular among those campaigning for a “yes” vote in the immigration referendum. The Geneva Citizens’ Movement (Mouvement citoyens genevois – MCG) is unhappy with these developments, as one of its leading politicians, Mauro Poggia, is a convert to Islam. MCG president Roger Golay claimed that the party had never agreed that its logo should appear on the Egerkingen Committee’s anti-Muslim poster, and is campaigning for controls on immigration, not against Muslims as such.

Update:  See “Swiss voters back limit on immigration”, Associated Press, 9 February 2014