Hostility and discrimination towards Muslim people in Switzerland is on the rise, the Federal Commission against Racism (FCR) said on Monday during a conference at the University of Fribourg.
The conference, organized by Fribourg University, religion researchers at the University of Lucerne and the Swiss Centre for Islam and Society (SZIG), discussed the conclusions of the latest studies into the perception of Muslims in Switzerland.
According to organizers, hostility towards Muslims in Switzerland is as a direct result of the political discourse and media reporting around Islam which exaggerate certain aspects of the religion, reported news agencies.
This hostility “is fed by facts that have nothing to do with Muslims themselves but with international events,” said FCR president Martine Brunschwig Graf in interviews after the conference.
Federal interior minister Alain Berset, attending the conference, warned against lumping in Islam with terrorism and “holding Islam responsible for all the extremist acts committed in its name”, broadcaster RST reported.
Conference organizers blamed social media sites for allowing the cheap and easy dissemination of “propaganda” that spreads suspicion of Muslims and leads to their social exclusion.
While there is no “miracle recipe” for fighting against this hostility, Brunschwig Graf said Switzerland had made steps in the right direction, not least the creation, in 2015, of the SZIG, a research and training institution that aims to encourage the discussion of Islam in Swiss society.