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Old 29.03.2012, 15:48
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I would disgree with that.

Switzerland has accepted its status as a multicultural and multilingual country at a much earlier point in history than any other country I can think of. It was until Mitterand came to power that the French government was awkwardly ignoring the very existence of such minority languages and cultures as Breton and Basque. In the UK Welsh did not start gaining any official recognition until about the 1980s and Scottish Gaelic still has no legal recognition today. As recently as post WW2, ethic cleansings in Eastern Europe led to the expulsion of ethnic Germans from places like the Sudetenland and Poland. Even today, Spain and Belgium are struggling to remain united countries due to groups that were oppressed in recent history distrusting the new staus quo and wanting their own countries (and who knows how long Scotland will remain part of the UK?). In comparison, Switzerland has enjoyed a long period of comparative peace between the linguistic and cultural groups in the country. There have not always been sunflowers and rainbows but disputes were mostly solved in an amicable way. To say Switzerland doesn't get multiculturalism is misrepresting history in a big way.
I somewhat agree with your point but there is something detrimental to distinguish. Having a country which is multicultural and multilingual vs. facilitating and incorporating people from different backgrounds and corners of the world into society and everyday life. Switzerland might have done a better job in terms of involving all 4 different parts of this country into unity but completely lack behind immigration driven differences. This is clearly displayed in the politically motivated public relations and intitutions. The culture also is not used to the "huge" influx of newcomers and thus, has not evolved accordingly as yet IMO.
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Old 29.03.2012, 15:50
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I suppose it depends on how far you want to take it. It's healthy to be hard on oneself but only up to a cirtain point, yes? Some people like the idea and philosophy of Buddism and they can also happily go about their lives walking on grass thereby killing worms etc without feeling guilty. Others will sort through the soil and remove all the living creatures (or try to) before laying down say a foundation (Buddist monks do this). What works for one person may not work for another.
I think you missed my point.

If a headline screams "the Swiss are racist". Is that racist? I mean not just a bit racist because of a lack of introspection, but blatantly racist because it is totally generalising and promoting negative stereotypes?

If you say, racism is having an ignorant view of another group of people, and at the same time you apply that adjective to a large group of people, the majority of whom you've never met personally. Is that racism?
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Old 29.03.2012, 15:50
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

“...racist thought and action says far more about the person they come from than the person they are directed at.”
Chris Crutcher, Whale Talk

The dalai Lama once said..."The enemy is, in a way, the real teacher".

Racism is our enemy. No doubt about that. But rather than running away from an in depth study of what makes us human why not embrace knowledge and thereby remove at least some of the ignorance that causes us to not see things the way they really are. Isn't that what life is realy about? Trying at least to see things and people the way they realy are?

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Old 29.03.2012, 15:59
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I somewhat agree with your point but there is something detrimental to distinguish. Having a country which is multicultural and multilingual vs. facilitating and incorporating people from different backgrounds and corners of the world into society and everyday life. Switzerland might have done a better job in terms of involving all 4 different parts of this country into unity but completely lack behind immigration driven differences. This is clearly displayed in the politically motivated public relations and intitutions. The culture also is not used to the "huge" influx of newcomers and thus, has not evolved accordingly as yet IMO.
True, I understand the distinction. But don't you think already having the basics of multiculturalism ingrained in the country's culture and workings should make it easier to accept new groups and minorities than you would have in a country that until quite recently believed in a monolithic one language and one culture approach.

To go back to the example of France. Immigration from North Africa started in the 1950s and 1960s but still today the Maghrebians are poorly integrated and discrimination is rife. The police lack cultural awareness and often aggravate problems rather than solving them. Switzerland hasn't had race riots or unprovoked police shootings of innocent immigrants, and whereas not everybody is happy, people do get along and when you look at second and third generation immigrants who grew up with the system, problems are relatively mild compared to other countries.
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:25
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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Racism is our enemy. No doubt about that. But rather than running away from an in depth study of what makes us human why not embrace knowledge and thereby remove at least some of the ignorance that causes us to not see things the way they really are. Isn't that what life is realy about? Trying at least to see things and people the way they realy are?

Okay, then... since I'm kinda bored.

There was a Swiss society long before any of us got here. It had some existing notions of the roles and responsibilities of individuals within that society. It had an ethos that was taught by example. Transgressing the ethos could get one ostracized, just as it happens in any human society.

A foreigner who comes here is not fully aware of this ethos at first. They can learn it, if they try. But many are not aware of it. So they struggle with the sense of not being "accepted" by Swiss society. They'll cry "foul" and call it racism. But there are many people from all over the world, of all kinds of races who come to an understanding of that ethos. They learn it, and even appreciate it, and get along quite well with the Swiss.

I'm probably as far removed from the original Swiss race as possible. But if you were to ask me if the Swiss are racist, I would tell you that the Swiss have ALWAYS been multicultural. The act of confederating with other tribes is multicultural to the core. Furthermore, I have seen more blatant and extreme forms of racism from people of my own race and nationality. Yes, there are Swiss idiots, but should that characterize the Swiss as a bunch of idiots? Well, THAT would be racism.
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:25
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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True, I understand the distinction. But don't you think already having the basics of multiculturalism ingrained in the country's culture and workings should make it easier to accept new groups and minorities than you would have in a country that until quite recently believed in a monolithic one language and one culture approach.

To go back to the example of France. Immigration from North Africa started in the 1950s and 1960s but still today the Maghrebians are poorly integrated and discrimination is rife. The police lack cultural awareness and often aggravate problems rather than solving them. Switzerland hasn't had race riots or unprovoked police shootings of innocent immigrants, and whereas not everybody is happy, people do get along and when you look at second and third generation immigrants who grew up with the system, problems are relatively mild compared to other countries.
I would disagree, having a homogenous multicultural society in a secluded country doesn't necessarily have to set a basis of an open-minded approach towards multiculturalism IMO. In addition, the Maghrebians in France seem fairly well integrated as you can see Maghrebis from a different backgrounds in various stages of society. You can observe this by watching French television, where you'll notice people of various background appearing regularly on many channels. The reason why you haven't seen any race riots in Switzerland are because a) immigration from new places started only in recent times and b) there are relatively a small number of people in comparasence to let's say France, who has an abundance of imigrants from former colonies. Just for the thought, how well are Maghrebians integrated in Switzerland?
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:47
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

In order for your argument to make sense, you need to clarify a few points:

First, I want to understand who qualifies as ''the people'' in a particular country, according to you. Is it just ones born on that particular soil? Or do people with a passport but no geographic or linguistic ties to that country also qualify? Is there maybe a ''gene'' which makes one part of ''the people''? What if two non-integrated immigrants have a child who grows up speaking the country's language and adopts their customs, but doesn't have citizenship? Is that child still just an immigrant?
Or take a person born and raised in that particular country, but whose mentality and views are in stark contrast with the ''normal'' culture of that country. Is that person still part of the ''people'', even if he strongly opposes and even resents the traditional culture of his country? What if his work ethic isn't so great, and he has a criminal record, and is not very capable? According to you, he has a God-given right to live there, but an immigrant with the same qualifications does not, because this lazy immigrant will threaten the way of life of the lazy local.
So what makes this lazy local better than the lazy immigrant?? It seems to me that your view of citizenship is very old-fashioned, a ''born here, raised here, die here'' type of thing.

Second, I want to understand what particular aspect of ''culture'' you think comes under threat by immigrants. Cultures, views, tastes, etc tend to evolve naturally, even without any input from outsiders. In Switzerland for example, lots of young Swiss roll their eyes when local, traditional folk music starts playing. Or, some young Swiss find the traditional foods to be ''too fattening''. That's certainly not because of immigrants.
So what particular part of culture in any given country do you think is so ''pure'' and ''untouchable'', that it wouldn't have changed naturally by itself due to new generations?
What exactly constitutes as a threat anyway? The increased availability of new foods, or the increase in different languages spoken on the street? The funny music?

So, to recap, please explain first what constitutes being one of the people deserving of protection in any given sovereign state, and why you have decided they have the privilege of being the ''chosen ones''.

And second, please explain what parts of culture you think immigrants threaten that should absolutely not change, why those aspects are then so special, and why wouldn't they have changed on their own, as they have for hundreds of years, in hundreds of countries...
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:48
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I would disgree with that.

Switzerland has accepted its status as a multicultural and multilingual country at a much earlier point in history than any other country I can think of. It was until Mitterand came to power that the French government was awkwardly ignoring the very existence of such minority languages and cultures as Breton and Basque. In the UK Welsh did not start gaining any official recognition until about the 1980s and Scottish Gaelic still has no legal recognition today. As recently as post WW2, ethic cleansings in Eastern Europe led to the expulsion of ethnic Germans from places like the Sudetenland and Poland. Even today, Spain and Belgium are struggling to remain united countries due to groups that were oppressed in recent history distrusting the new staus quo and wanting their own countries (and who knows how long Scotland will remain part of the UK?). In comparison, Switzerland has enjoyed a long period of comparative peace between the linguistic and cultural groups in the country. There have not always been sunflowers and rainbows but disputes were mostly solved in an amicable way. To say Switzerland doesn't get multiculturalism is misrepresting history in a big way.
I have to disagree on one technical point, Scottish Gaelic has always been a recognized language of Scotland and the primary language of the clans for internal disputes, French being the international language used (up until the treaty of Edinburgh in 1560 French could almost be classed as the second language of Scotland, France and Scotland being traditionally very close allies).
Gaelic was the predominant Language up until the unification of the crowns, in 1600 (while Scotland was still autonomous and only shared their Stewart King with England and her captured states i.e. Wales and Ireland), and still in great use by 1707 (the Union of the crowns) up until 1746 when parliament banned the speaking of Gaelic and wearing of tartan.

Indicating that the British Government recognized the language or else they couldn’t have banned it. It is currently one of the 4 recognized languages of the UK and has always been recognized since the formation of our union.
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:56
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

I've now read the article and there are a lot of recommendations. There's little recognition of the Swiss position, although some acknowledgement of progress. Perhaps the COE should accept that Switzerland prefers a Bilateral approach where it can adopt the COE conevnetions that aren't in conflict with its own culture. Clearly the COE is based upon a concept of building a Pan-European culture with nation states/cantions reduces to regional significance.
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Old 29.03.2012, 16:58
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I understand the term very well. Politically speaking, Switzerland's stance on racism is very lax, thus for instance the ample posters depicting visible foreigners negatively and that IMO is not ok and should be abolished.
Depicting foreigners is not racism. It's something else......a phobia I believe.
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:06
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

Nothing wrong with immigrants bringing their culture with them, but with sensitivity and respect for the existing culture they've chosen to move to leading eventually to integration if they want to remain.

I'm happy to discuss integration issues, but that's a separate topic. In fact there's nothing in the article about cultural suppression. The minarett ban is one thing, but I see that as linked with the proposed limits on popular initiatives. That becomes a constitutional issue, as the COE supports self determination, and now wants to limit this as part of the comments on the popular initiative right in the Swiss constitution.
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:17
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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In order for your argument to make sense, you need to clarify a few points:

First, I want to understand who qualifies as ''the people'' in a particular country, according to you. Is it just ones born on that particular soil? Or do people with a passport but no geographic or linguistic ties to that country also qualify? Is there maybe a ''gene'' which makes one part of ''the people''? What if two non-integrated immigrants have a child who grows up speaking the country's language and adopts their customs, but doesn't have citizenship? Is that child still just an immigrant?
Or take a person born and raised in that particular country, but whose mentality and views are in stark contrast with the ''normal'' culture of that country. Is that person still part of the ''people'', even if he strongly opposes and even resents the traditional culture of his country? What if his work ethic isn't so great, and he has a criminal record, and is not very capable? According to you, he has a God-given right to live there, but an immigrant with the same qualifications does not, because this lazy immigrant will threaten the way of life of the lazy local.
So what makes this lazy local better than the lazy immigrant?? It seems to me that your view of citizenship is very old-fashioned, a ''born here, raised here, die here'' type of thing.
Those are interesting questions deserving some thought. I don't claim to know the answers but it certainly shows the modern world is a lot more compliacted than Ancient Athens where these questions qould have had clear and straight answers.

Immigration and naturalization imply that a country's makeup may change through processes other than bloodlines. If somebody from outside can be accepted into the community and become a full member (by whatever process) then should there be a reverse process to expel those who are not wanted or don't fit in? Surely if you can vote to grant somebody citizenship, you should also be able to vote for the reverse? I'm not claiming to have the answers here, jsut naming some of the issues that come up. So what happens to somebody you expel and has no other nationailty to revert to? So to avoid that problem, maybe you shouldn't be able to de-naturalise anybody. But if you believe in democracy, shouldn't "the people" be able to decide who they allow to join their number and under what conditions (and be allowed to ponder the question at length seeing it's one they cannot reverse)? If you move to a different country, you do so knowing you are a guest and have no right to claim that citizenship but can earn it? In that respect the Swiss Gemeindes that still do vote over citizenship are exemplary as delegating this decison to unnaccountable "authorities" may lead to the fulfillment of Bertolt Brecht's prophecy "The people don't vote as we want so we must change them for new people".

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Second, I want to understand what particular aspect of ''culture'' you think comes under threat by immigrants. Cultures, views, tastes, etc tend to evolve naturally, even without any input from outsiders. In Switzerland for example, lots of young Swiss roll their eyes when local, traditional folk music starts playing. Or, some young Swiss find the traditional foods to be ''too fattening''. That's certainly not because of immigrants.
So what particular part of culture in any given country do you think is so ''pure'' and ''untouchable'', that it wouldn't have changed naturally by itself due to new generations?
Interestingly, Switzerland is different here too. I know of quite a few foreigners who yodel or play the alphorn. I once saw a story about a British expat in Spain who became a bullfighter. So immigrants do feel some affinity for "the culture" (whatever that is) and either genuinely want to be part of it or feel they are accelerating their integration process by taking part.

My own take is that you are truly integrated when your local friends consider you one of them and they no longer think "that English guy did this" but say "Andy did this".
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:19
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

The movie is called "Fitna". It is easily available online.
And the problem I have with inflammatory movie/speeches/opinions is that there is a difference between having an opinion and wanting to discuss and work towards finding a solution that improves the situation for all, and simply giving an empty statement of hate and manipulation like Fitna is. At least that is how I see it.

And at absolutely no moment I said we should ban inflammatory/offensive/blabla whatever types of movies. As you said, people are not obliged to watch anything. But since immigration/exclusion/integration are important and relevant subjects that will always be around us, I think it is the role of politicians to learn how to listen to concerns, weigh them in, debate in society and make a decision. Not to promote a movie that simply makes the gap even wider.
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:20
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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Switzerland hardly suffers from ''unfettered'' immigration!

And by the way, I've been an immigrant twice now, and I can tell you that not integrating is usually a symptom of not being welcome or being actually discriminated against by the people of that particular country, and not because you don't want to, trust me.
People have to WANT to integrate and work for it themselves. Thats how you feel like you earned something and deserve it, there has to be a responsibility by the person who should be integrating. Integration doesnt just fall out from the sky to hold your hand. Life is not easy for many people, but actually working towards integrating and showing that you earned it goes a lot further than thinking that someone should do it for you.

Although its necessary that there are tools out there to assist people, I would hardly call not being welcome as 'usual' when it comes to a cause for not integrating.

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trust me.
And before you tell me how experienced you are over anyone else. I speak four different languages myself and have always mixed with plenty of foreigners. I'll tell you my experience, the ones who arnt integrated/ing are the same people who want something for nothing or think thats how the system should work, and thats the problem. A sense of entitlement is whats causing these rifts.
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:20
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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Switzerland hardly suffers from ''unfettered'' immigration!

And by the way, I've been an immigrant twice now, and I can tell you that not integrating is usually a symptom of not being welcome or being actually discriminated against by the people of that particular country, and not because you don't want to, trust me.
Please reconsider your expectations as an immigrant. Local citizens can be discriminated by their fellow citizens too, so this shouldn't affect your integration efforts, as only through integration and perhaps naturalization can you effectively be part of a positive change in your new society.

Secondly it's not incumbent on any local to welcome you. It's nice if they do, but it's not required of them and shouldn't be expected. How many immigrants did you "welcome" when you were living in your own country?

If you want to discuss the difficulties of integration in Switzerland that's fine. And some communities commit more resources to this than others. But that can apply to services available to local citizens too. Unfortunately "more money for the foreigners" presents political difficulties in most societies.
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Old 29.03.2012, 17:45
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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People have to WANT to integrate and work for it themselves. Thats how you feel like you earned something and deserve it, there has to be a responsibility by the person who should be integrating. Integration doesnt just fall out from the sky to hold your hand. Life is not easy for many people, but actually working towards integrating and showing that you earned it goes a lot further than thinking that someone should do it for you.

Although its necessary that there are tools out there to assist people, I would hardly call not being welcome as 'usual' when it comes to a cause for not integrating.



And before you tell me how experienced you are over anyone else. I speak four different languages myself and have always mixed with plenty of foreigners. I'll tell you my experience, the ones who arnt integrated/ing are the same people who want something for nothing or think thats how the system should work, and thats the problem. A sense of entitlement is whats causing these rifts.

I never said I didn't mix with people, or that I didn't eventually become fully-integrated (at least in the previous country). I also never said integration should just happen or that somebody should do it for me, please don't attach those statements to my post since that is exactly the opposite of how I have behaved in my ''experienced'' life

I just wanted to point out that many people underestimate just how much (a lot) of immigrants want to integrate and how much effort they put into it, while also underestimating how many barriers to integration there are within their own countries.

I was referring exactly to those who ''actually worked hard toward integrating'', as you say, but who were met with many obstacles and racism; those people are the ones who become bitter, resentful and unfriendly, not the ones who never wanted to integrate in the first place.

I don't want to belittle your experience, but saying that ''the ones who arnt integrated/ing are the same people who want something for nothing'' has absolutely not been my experience. (At least the majority of the time)
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Old 29.03.2012, 18:54
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

as an outsider whose native country unfortunately has a long track record of institutionalized racism, I have not found Switzerland to be "racist" at all - the Swiss distrust anybody who is non-Swiss, but at least they do so regardless of race or heritage.

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Old 29.03.2012, 19:37
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

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I somewhat agree with your point but there is something detrimental to distinguish. Having a country which is multicultural and multilingual vs. facilitating and incorporating people from different backgrounds and corners of the world into society and everyday life. Switzerland might have done a better job in terms of involving all 4 different parts of this country into unity but completely lack behind immigration driven differences. This is clearly displayed in the politically motivated public relations and intitutions. The culture also is not used to the "huge" influx of newcomers and thus, has not evolved accordingly as yet IMO.
as a foreigner, it would certainly be nice to see a more institutionalized approach to integration, including access to language training, etc. the current "system" does little else other than turn "integration" and "assimilation" into a cottage industry, which can be lucrative for those on the service-provider side of the equation but less than ideal for actually introducing foreigners into a culture.

I don't think that Switzerland has any obligation, moral or otherwise, to accept immigrants in the first place. but if the country voluntarily chooses to do so, it may have to pursue a different approach then the one it is currently using. perhaps part of the problem here is that the country also has a reasonably long history of permitting silo'ed foreign and expat communities, which are interestingly juxtaposed against a very proud and deep Swiss culture and heritage.
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Old 29.03.2012, 22:39
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

I came here speaking a Swiss language (French), but I've never livied in the French speaking part.

The only Swiss language I've studied here is Rumantsch.

I've never used English to get by, rather French (both in Zurich in Ticino) until I learned the local lingo.

Now that I have an Italian-only speaking wife, I was quite surprised to see that so many Swiss up north can speak Italian (but alas, the non-Swiss worker NOT! ), and the same has been noted by my co-workers on northern visits.

So, to cut it short, if I go up north, I expect people to understand Swiss German and/or Italian, those who speak only hoch-deutsch don't cut it!

Tom
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Old 30.03.2012, 00:02
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Re: Racism rife in Switzerland: human rights chief

Its about culture? come on now, say what you mean will you? you want Muslims out of Europe, thats all. We are all friends here, no need to hide your true colors
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