Even if you, your father, and your grandfather spent their entire lives in Switzerland you do not automatically qualify for Swiss citizenship. The Swiss voted any change in this and their other naturalization laws down this week. This report on the vote is graced by a poster used in the referendum campaign. The poster shows grasping coloured hands reaching for Swiss passports. I know where not to go for my holidays this winter.
28Sep04 — 12
[…] Willkommen in der Schweiz II
As a follow-up to this, right now I am listening to BBC Radio 4. They are broadcasting a documentary about Switzerland. T […]
Long Time Gone
There’s something uneasily familiar about the poster Pooter Geek takes exception to here. A whiff of the 1930’s has arisen again recently in parts of…
I’d also recommend not Austria, for similar reasons (although to be fair [!], I’ve only been there with Jews rather than dark-skinned people, and maybe they’re just [!] antisemitic).
Ain’t democracy grand?
While I understand both Harry’s and John B’s point, please indulge me while I relate a little story from my own experience. This took place in 1990, during Bush Snr’s presidency, and before The Gulf War (I). I’d been hitching (with little success) and training round the States, and I’d met a girl ( Jill) and an Austrian guy (Erwin) in New Orleans over Mardi Gras. (Purely by accident, I arrived in the Big Easy when there was (almost) nowhere to stay. Such was my understanding of American culture.) We met at a youth hostel there, and we got on quite well. Jill was down from New York; Erwin and I were backpackers. We stayed in contact, and in April Jill tracked me down and told me she was apartment-sitting for her uncle, and she was inviting Erwin and I to stay if we wanted.
Jill’s uncle’s apartment was pretty nice, for downtown Manhattan. Splendid top-floor (15th or something) living room, which accomodated a grand piano and facing sofas easily, a claustrophobic bedroom and kitchen to match. (The uncle had made it big during the 60s as the manager of a music act.)
Jill’s parents wanted to know who was staying in their relative’s flat, so Erwin and I were invited uptown for a meal (around 115th St, I seem to recall; if it had any advantages over downtown, it was nearer Central Park). They got that Erwin was Austrian. They remained polite, but made it clear to Jill that Erwin and myself weren’t welcome in either home after than night.
I know who started it. And I’m not blaming anyone here. I understand their reasons. But prejudice cuts both ways. Erwin certainly wasn’t an anti-semite.
I should have said that that was brought on by John’s point about Austrians. Most of whom I’ve found to be very nice.
When I lived in ZÃ¼rich, a popular souvenir amongst the many sizes and shapes of chocolate bars in city centre stores, were chocolate Swiss passports. I say popular, but whether it was I don’t know – it certainly seemed to reflect the Swiss attitude that their nationality was a wonderful thing to have and was something all visitors craved.
As for Austrians, the only ones I’ve known have been lovely, but my husband is convinced he’s been refused service in Viennese cafes only when he’s been with Jewish friends.
Around and about
Various things have caught my eye around the blogosphere. First up, Chris Brooke ran with a suggestion of mine concerning our latter-day Widmerpool (and splendid work he has done too). Chris also reacts to Melanie Phillips’s response to the Blair…
The poster with hands grabbing passports was an official SVP release. There were several other independent groups distibuting even more offensive advertisements, one claiming that soon there would be more muslims than christians in Switzerland. Perhaps the worst was a doctored Swiss ID card with Bin Laden on it, saying essentially “Don’t let him lead you around.” (also, in French, playing off the word for people from Bern.)
A link to an anti-SVP (pro-naturalization) site, in German:
And Bin Laden specifically:
Most newspapers in the western French-speaking part of Switzerland refused to run the “Muslims in the majority?” ads, but they did appear in some German newspapers.
Interesting and on the wider topic: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/004/685ozxcq.asp
In agreement? Opinions?
First the Swiss ad: despicable. Then the anecdotes: appalling, but could happen anywhere. A German professor of mine told the class that a Norwegian once spat on his car when he say the “D.” I’d visit Norway anyhow. Now the last, and hardest: the “problem” of Islamic emigration into Europe. On the one hand, concern over this issue smacks – should I say stinks? – of racism. But on the other hand, Europe’s marvelous secularism is worth defending, no? Isn’t there a legitimate concern over rising numbers of believers? How I wish my own benighted land could be purged of the Christian fundamentalists! I’d worry about any significant influx of fundamentalists no matter which religion.
Just a note on Norwegians and Germans — many of the old Norwegians still remember the German invasion during WWII and the subsequent burning of most of the settlements in the north of the country. Still not a good reason to spit on a fella’s car, but not quite the same thing as racism as it springs from an invasion in living memory. The younger Norwegians don’t tend to have this problem.