2019 data shows racism on the rise in Switzerland

Switzerland documented a record 352 cases of discrimination in 2019, reflecting an increase in racist acts in public places and attacks spurred by far-right ideologies.

Xenophobia was the main driver for racist behaviour. Black and Muslim people are the worst affected, with 132 and 55 cases respectively registered by counselling centresexternal link in 2019.

Enemies, target groups and ideologies

Number of cases: 352 (multiple entries possible)

Racism against blacks
Hostility towards Muslims
Rightwing extremism
Hostility towards Arabs
Hostility towards people from the Balkans
Hostility towards Roma, Sinti, Yenish
Hostility towards French people in French-speaking Switzerland
Hostility towards people from the majority society (not minorities)
Hostility towards Germans in German-speaking Switzerland
Other religious enemies

The number of cases with a right-wing extremist connotation also rose in 2019. Every tenth attack falls under this category, notes the Blick newspaper in its Sunday edition.

“The extreme right-wing scene is on the move," says the president of the Federal Commission against Racismexternal link (EKR) Martine Brunschwig Graf, in remarks quoted by Blick.external link "This must be taken seriously; we must not underestimate it."

Only a small number of victims of racism, she notes, seek help from an advice centre. The number of unreported cases is believed to be higher than the number of reported cases.

Notable racist acts in 2019 included the spraying of Nazi symbols, people making the Hitler salute and attacks against black youth.

Racial profiling is another issue highlighted by the authorities, with 23 cases reported last year.

The 352 figure represents a 27% increase relative to 2018. The government has already published some of its main findingsexternal link for 2019 but is expected to release a full report on the issue on Monday.

In its 2020 report, the Council of Europe's Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) urged Switzerland external linkto boost the capacity of counselling centres for victims of racism.

Source: swissinfo