2020 racism report in Switzerland

The new report on racism by the GRA Foundation against Racism and Antisemitism and the GMS Society for Minorities in Switzerland deals with racist incidents from last year on the occasion of the International Day against Racism. The Covid19 pandemic gave rise to anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. But the “Black Lives Matter” movement also had an impact on the local debate on racism. 

2020 was shaped by the Covid19 pandemic: the greatest crisis of the post-war period hit countless people hard physically, economically and mentally, including in Switzerland. Economic and social crises - as we know it from history - often provide a breeding ground for agitation against minorities. Last year, for example, the corona crisis was at times abused for party political interests: people with a migration background became scapegoats when some media and politicians reported that most hospital beds were "occupied by migrants or people with a migration background". 

Especially in times of crisis, people tend to look for someone to blame and are therefore more receptive to conspiracy fantasies. Because these apparently provide simple answers (and supposedly guilty parties) to complex events in the world. So it is hardly surprising how in the course of the pandemic new conspiracy myths fall back on age-old stereotypes and make them socially acceptable again. This development is worrying: according to a current study by the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), up to 30 percent of the Swiss population were susceptible to conspiracy fantasies even before the Corona. The problem with this is that conspiracy theories can be a gateway for radicalization.

Often conspiracy fantasies also contain antisemitic narratives. These were also increasingly in circulation again in 2020 (more on this in the “Antisemitism” chapter). Movements like QAnon from the USA, which spreads absurd stories about an alleged “secret elite” who enslaved young children and soaks their blood, mix with classic anti-Semitic legends like those of ritual murder. Such movements are now enjoying a growing and increasingly radical following in Switzerland too.

Source: GRA