The poster, featuring a burqa-clad figure promoted by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and displayed in Switzerland’s main train stations, has stirred controversy in the country, which is preparing to vote on a referendum to facilitate naturalization processes for mainly Muslim migrants.
HeatStreet (h/t RevereRidesAgain) The Swiss Federal Railways is under pressure to remove political ads featuring a woman in a burqa, which critics have called offensive propaganda. The political poster was commissioned by a committee co-led by a group of Swiss People’s Party (SVP) politicians, also known as the Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC), the country’s biggest party.
The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which ordered up the ad campaign, opposes the referendum, saying broader naturalization would have “damaging consequences to Swiss culture and identity.” The SVP’s anti-referendum ads depict a woman in a burqa—a “symbol of lack of integration,” said one prominent SVP politician—with the campaign’s slogan: “Uncontrolled naturalization? No to facilitated naturalization.”
The Feb. 12 referendum would naturalize as many as 25,000 third-generation immigrants under the age of 25, provided they speak one of the four official languages of the country, respect Swiss law, and meet other criteria.The railway, specifically, is under pressure because the SVP has runs the ads in train stations where thousands of passengers see them every day. On Facebook, critics described the burqa ad as ‘racist,” “hateful,” and “propaganda,” one English-language Swiss news outlet reported.
Stopping Muslim immigration to Switzerland has been a prevailing theme of political posters for nearly a decade.
The Swiss Federal Railways said in a statement this week: “As long as political advertising does not constitute a breach of law, we have no room for maneuver. It’s not our job to morally assess political advertising.”
The ads were created by Goal AG, an agency known for its controversial ads about Muslim assimilation and immigration. In 2009, as Switzerland considered whether to deport immigrants who had committed serious crimes, Goal AG created a poster showing a white sheep booting a black sheep off a Swiss flag.
Goal AG is now expanding, focusing on political advertising in Angela Merkel’s Germany, the Financial Timesreported in December.
In September 2016, Swiss Parliament voted to ban Muslim women from wearing the Burka in public. The Burka has already been banned in the Tessin region of Switzerland with people facing fines in excess of £7,000 for breaching the rule.
In November 2009, Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on minarets, barring construction of the ugly mosque towers in a surprise vote that put Switzerland at the forefront of a European backlash against a growing Muslim population.