Reports of racism in Switzerland rising during COVID-19 pandemic

Reports of racism in Switzerland rising during COVID-19 pandemic

The Service for Combating Racism in Switzerland (SCRA) has found that the COVID-19 pandemic has “fuelled racism and hate speech” in the country, according to their latest report.

Discrimination on the basis of race prevalent in Switzerland

The report discovered that 40 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds felt that they were discriminated against in the last five years. Over the past year, the number of reports of hate speech has risen by 2 percent among the youth, 5 percent for those aged 25 to 39 and 30 percent for those aged 40 to 54.

Discrimination refers to situations where a person's skin colour, religion or culture has personally affected their life in a social or professional setting. This can extend to negotiations over work contracts and discrimination when looking for a job.

The report found that discrimination related to work was the most common, followed by housing and education. Remarks deemed to be racist and conscious / unconscious unequal treatment were the most common things reported. While acts of violence were rare, the SCRA emphasised that racism and hate speech does not have to be physically violent to be impactful.

Switzerland struggles to combat hate speech online

As well as discrimination, the report also observed that hate speech and racism were gaining pace on social media. Fuelled by conspiracy theories, the SCRA noted that anti-Semitic posts have increased the most during the COVID pandemic. The service called on internet platforms to work with the government to ensure a “safe digital environment, free from discrimination and racism.”

Alongside the new findings, the report discovered that prejudice against certain groups is still prevalent in Switzerland. One in five people surveyed had negative views of Muslims or Jews, with one in 10 having prejudices based on the colour of someone's skin. Finally, one in three felt unease or tension if someone perceived as “different” entered their life or neighbourhood.

With these continuing social issues, the SCRA hoped that by showing how common discriminatory views were, they would be able to push for social change. On a positive note, they found that 58 percent of the population saw racism as a social issue that needed to be taken seriously, indicating that a desire for change is present.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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