SWITZERLAND’S official flag – bearing a distinctive white cross on a red background – has been around since 1848, but Muslims in the country are now claiming that it is offensive and want it replaced.
According to this report, Second@s Plus, a lobbying group that represents mostly Muslim second-generation Swiss residents is about to launch a nationwide campaign for a less offensive replacement. It says the national flag, with its Christian symbol:
No longer corresponds to today’s multicultural Switzerland.
Ivica Petrusic, Vice President of the group, said last month:
Switzerland today has a great religious and cultural diversity. One has to ask if the State wants to continue building up a symbol in which many people no longer believe.
Petrusic added thatÂ Switzerland needs new symbols with which everyone, including non-Christians, can identify. As an alternative to the current Swiss flag, Petrusic proposed the former flag of the Helvetic Republic (see image here) which was officially introduced in 1799 and consisted of green, red and yellow colors.
Those colors are similar to the current flags of Bolivia and Ghana and would represent a more progressive and open-minded Switzerland.
His proposal has met with outrage across the political spectrum.
Sylvia FlÃ¼ckiger a councillor with the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said the demands are:
Totally unacceptable. With our Swiss flag there is nothing to change. The next thing you know, they will demand even more, that we change our constitution.
And Marianne Binder, spokeswoman for the center-right Christian Democrats (CVP) asserted:
The Swiss flag is part of Swiss identity, precisely because it is inviting for all to want to be involved…even the immigrants.
Stefan Brupbacher, general secretary of the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) added:
This is utter nonsense. The Swiss cross is an extremely successful and valuable global brand. It is a symbol of success and quality. We will tightly hold on to it, out of love for Switzerland.
Hudson New York points out that the Muslim population in Switzerland has more than quintupled since 1980, and now numbers about 400,000, or roughly five percent of the population. Most Muslims living in Switzerland are of Turkish or Balkan origin, with a smaller minority from the Arab world. Many of them are second- and third-generation immigrants who are now firmly establishing themselves in Switzerland.
The new Muslim demographicÂ is raising tensions across large parts of Swiss society, especially as Muslims become more assertive in their demands for greater recognition of their Islamic faith.
In recent years the number of mosques in Switzerland has mushroomed; there now are over 200 mosques and up to 1,000 prayer rooms dotted across the country. Critics fear the mosques are facilitating the establishment of a parallel Muslim society – one that is especially attractive to Islamic fundamentalists.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn