Saturday, September 08, 2007

The sound of xenophobia

By Michael J.W. Stickings

There's an excellent article on Switzerland at The Independent. Make sure to read it all, but here's the summary:

Switzerland is known as a haven of peace and neutrality. But today it is home to a new extremism that has alarmed the United Nations. Proposals for draconian new laws that target the country's immigrants have been condemned as unjust and racist. A poster campaign, the work of its leading political party, is decried as xenophobic. Has Switzerland become Europe's heart of darkness?

According to the U.N., the poster in question is "the sinister symbol of the rise of a new racism and xenophobia in the heart of one of the world's oldest independent democracies". Immigration and xenophobia will no doubt be key issues leading up to the general election next month.

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In related news, it is being reported that Mitt Romney is planning a two-day fact-finding mission to Berne next week, a break from the campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire. Rudy Giuliani, who has been showing a softer, un-Republican side, at least on the issue of illegal immigration, has been denied entry into Switzerland, according to a high-ranking government source, but Tom Tancredo and a delegation of Republican congressmen will accompany Romney. Tancredo himself has called Switzerland "Europe's ideal," and there have been rumours that, while there, he will apply for residency in exchange for advising the Swiss People's Party (Schweizerische Volkspartei) during the upcoming campaign.

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In related related news, Zurich and Denver are planning to become twin cities, with cultural and political exchanges coming as early as next summer, just in time for the 2008 elections.

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