​​​​​​​Racism on the rise in Switzerland, says government report

Racism and hate speech are spread mainly on the Internet and social media, and affect particularly the younger generations. Martin Ruetschi

The Covid-19 pandemic has fuelled racism and hate speech, with racial discrimination in Switzerland affecting more and more young people, says a new report.

This content was published on September 7, 2021

Forty percent of 15-24 year olds feel they have been discriminated against in the last five years, according to the report on Tuesday by the government’s Service for Combating RacismExternal link. Thirty-two per cent of the population say they have experienced some form of discrimination or violence in the last five years.

The number of reported discrimination incidents is increasing particularly among the younger generations. It has risen by two percentage points among 15-24 year olds, five percentage points among 25-39 year olds and 30% among the 40-54 age group.

Discrimination occurs in all areas of life, says the report, but top of the list is discrimination linked to the world of work, such as the search for a job and daily professional life. This is followed, with a slight upward trend, by housing and school. Racist remarks and unequal treatment are the most frequently reported, while acts of physical violence remain relatively rare.

Racism and hate speech are spread mainly through the Internet and social media. Conspiracy theories, especially anti-Semitic ones, have proliferated since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, notes the Service for Combating Racism Service.

The state and civil society, Internet users and platform operators must work together to find ways to create a safe digital environment, free from discrimination and racism, while guaranteeing freedom of expression, the Service for Combating Racism concludes.

Prejudices against certain groups are latent, it says. For example, among people who do not completely reject prejudice, one in five have negative prejudices against Muslims and Jews, and one in ten against black-skinned people. One third of the population feels bothered at work, in their neighbourhood or in their daily life by people they perceive as “different”.

However, the voices of those who defend equality and fundamental rights are also getting louder. The majority of the population (58%) perceive racism as a social problem that needs to be taken seriously, and one in three people think more needs to be done to tackle it, according to the report.

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