Cancelled Albanian festival accuses Zurich council of discrimination

Cancelled Albanian festival accuses Zurich council of discrimination

The organisers of alba Festival have accused the Zurich government of discrimination after they cancelled the event 48 hours before it was due to start because of concerns about COVID-19 cases.

alba Festival cancelled over COVID while Zurich Pride went ahead

In a video shared on Instagram, the organisers of the festival said that the decision to cancel the event was tantamount to discrimination. alba Festival is an event put together by Albanian and Swiss citizens to celebrate Albanian music. The organisers said they were unfairly targeted after the cantonal government said the event could not go ahead due to it being aimed at a “community severely affected by COVID.”

The accusations came as larger events in Zurich, such as the Zurich Pride and a rooftop rave in the airport were allowed to go ahead with fewer COVID restrictions. The organisers of the alba Festival said that despite having a “3G” COVID certificate system in place and abiding by government rules, the event was still cancelled. They claimed that they had been targeted because of their nationality. 

Festival accuses Zurich government of discrimination against Albanians

"It is understandable that the Albanian community feel like second-class people," said cantonal councillor for the Alternative List, Nicole Wyss. She said that because the alba Festival was the only event that was forced to cancel on the weekend, it seemed obvious that the community “was not trusted” to organise and run the event. 

Wyss has since called on the government to give the organisers and ticket holders full compensation. A cross-party group of cantonal councillors have now filed a written request, asking the government councillor responsible why the event was cancelled at such short notice when they were following all the rules set out by the canton.

"Event cancelled due to low vaccination rate," says Zurich council

A spokesperson for the council clarified that the decision to cancel any event was based on the “epidemiological situation and the specific risks of the event." They emphasised that the same approach would be taken with any group deemed to be a risk. Officials clarified later that the reason the event was cancelled was due to low vaccination rates among Albanian communities.

The organiser of the festival, Adem Morina, said that he “clearly felt discriminated against by the governing council," emphasising that the "protection concept" was sufficient and the event even had a pop-up vaccination clinic planned. Speaking with the organisers, Zurich councillor Përparim Avdili called for equal treatment for all groups, stating that "a wrestling festival is not cancelled just because wrestling fans have a lower vaccination rate."

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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