The Swiss political and media landscape is charged with loaded images of Muslim women. The French side of Swiss media (namely, in newspapers like Le Temps) usually presents a balanced view of Muslim women, and television shows are of a decent quality, especially compared to television in the U.S.
So I had no reason to be anything but excited for the December 16th episode of “Temps Present” on the TSR. But the show fell short, starting out with a reminder that we are a little over a year after the minaret vote (in Switzerland, not Egypt or France). The anchor makes the point that Swiss women voted over 80% in favor of banning minarets, compared to a little less than 60% of the voters as a whole. This, the anchor summarized, was due to Swiss women’s concerns about the place of women in Islam. The show thus opens with a question: should we be afraid of the place women have in Islam? This is where my hopes were dashed–the starting point of the show begins with Swiss women’s fears of TEH ISLAMZ.
So why do a show about Egypt and France? The show was divided into segments based in two locations: Egypt and the French “banlieue” in the Lyon suburbs. Why not Swiss Muslim women on this prime time show? Are they just not sexy enough for news? Switzerland is a small country without a lot of Muslims, but…really? They couldn’t find any Swiss Muslim women?