EKR reports a significant rise in racist incidents in Switzerland

EKR reports a significant rise in racist incidents in Switzerland

The number of racist incidents reported to the emergency services in Switzerland increased by nearly a quarter in 2023, the Federal Commission against Racism (EKR) has reported. The government noted that cases of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hatred have risen significantly in the last year, with Swiss schools also seeing a worrying increase in incidents.

Racism incidents on the rise in Switzerland

Writing in a statement, the EKR confirmed that 876 cases of racial discrimination were recorded in Switzerland last year - though the number of actual cases is likely much higher. This is 168 more than last year, amounting to a 24 percent increase. Last year, cases of xenophobia and anti-Black racism were the most frequently registered, though anti-Arab, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic incidents have seen their numbers increase the most.

The EKR also noted a worrying rise in the number of incidents in education, noting that places of learning, from schools to universities, were the most common locations for racism to occur. The government noted the case of an 11-year-old boy who was called racial slurs and sent disturbing images and insults on a class WhatsApp group. The school did not intervene, claiming that it was not their responsibility to police group chats between students.

Why are cases of racism increasing in Switzerland?

In explaining the increase in incidents, the EKR noted that “the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East has reinforced the racist and anti-Semitic dynamics of our society, and thus has implications in Switzerland too.” The attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7 2023, and the following bombing campaign of Gaza by Israeli forces, has reignited tensions and has led to an increase in both anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hatred. 

In Switzerland, this came to a head on March 2, 2024, when an Orthodox Jewish man was stabbed and killed in Zurich by a 15-year-old who had declared his allegiance to the Islamic State - the Tages-Anzeiger wrote that it was one of the worst anti-Semitic incidents in the alpine nation since a Jewish person was killed by Nazi sympathisers in Vaud in 1942. The act was condemned by the government, Jewish associations and various Muslim groups. 

SVP election rhetoric was racist and xenophobic, argues EKR

The EKR added that during the Swiss federal elections last year, a growing number of people noted “prejudices and discriminatory messages” during the campaign. While not named in the recent study, the EKR did write last year that the anti-immigration campaign and Facebook posts run by the Swiss People’s Party - the winner of the election - were “not only racist and xenophobic, but [were] inflammatory and deliberately stir up negative emotions.”

“The experiences experienced by victims lead to a loss of confidence in institutions and society…It is a question of identifying and then eliminating the structures and inequalities of treatment which result from racism, while ensuring that the people concerned are involved because the victims must be heard and their perspectives taken into account,” the EKR concluded.

If you have been the victim of discrimination in Switzerland, EKR advice centres are available in 25 Swiss cantons, which can offer support, information and advice on next steps. You can also report a case of racism or discrimination using the official website.

Thumb image credit: AntPhotos123 /

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...

Read more



Leave a comment