Immigrants Want Swiss Flag Without A Cross


An immigrant group based in Bern has called for the emblematic white cross to be removed from the Swiss national flag because as a Christian symbol it “no longer corresponds to today’s multicultural Switzerland.” Ivica Petrusic, the vice president of Second@s Plus, a lobbying group that represents mostly Muslim second-generation foreigners in Switzerland (who colloquially are known as secondos) says the group will launch a nationwide campaign in October to ask Swiss citizens to consider adopting a flag that is less offensive to Muslim immigrants.

In a September 18 interview with the Swiss newspaper Aargauer Zeitung, Petrusic said the cross has a Christian background and while the Christian roots of Switzerland should be respected, “it is necessary to separate church and state” because “Switzerland today has a great religious and cultural diversity. One has to ask if the State wants to continue building up a symbol in which many people no longer believe.”


In the interview, Petrusic said Switzerland needs new symbols with which everyone, including non-Christians, can identify. As an alternative to the current Swiss flag (see image here), Petrusic proposed the former flag of the Helvetic Republic (see image here) which was officially introduced in 1799 and consisted of green, red and yellow colors. “Those colors are similar to the current flags of Bolivia and Ghana and would represent a more progressive and open-minded Switzerland,” Petrusic said.

The proposal to change the Swiss flag has been met with outrage across the political spectrum and is sure to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments in Switzerland.

Sylvia Flückiger a councillor with the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP) said the demands are: “Totally unacceptable. With our Swiss flag there is nothing to change. The next thing you know, they will demand even more, that we change our constitution.”

Marianne Binder, spokeswoman for the center-right Christian Democrats (CVP) said: “This is just what was missing, that we need to change our flag. The Swiss flag is part of Swiss identity, precisely because it is inviting for all to want to be involved…even the immigrants.”

Stefan Brupbacher, general secretary of the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) said: “This is utter nonsense. The Swiss cross is an extremely successful and valuable global brand. It is a symbol of success and quality. We will tightly hold on to it, out of love for Switzerland.”

The issue of Muslim immigration to Switzerland has been a hotly debated topic in recent years and the flag controversy is sure to add fuel to the fire.

The Muslim population in Switzerland has more than quintupled since 1980, and now numbers about 400,000, or roughly 5% of the population. Most Muslims living in Switzerland are of Turkish or Balkan origin, with a smaller minority from the Arab world. Many of them are second- and third-generation immigrants who are now firmly establishing themselves in Switzerland.

The new Muslim demographic reality is raising tensions across large parts of Swiss society, especially as Muslims become more assertive in their demands for greater recognition of their Islamic faith.

The ensuing controversies are fuelling a debate over the role of Islam in Swiss society and how to reconcile Western values with a growing immigrant population determined to avoid assimilation.

Swiss courts have been jam-packed with Islam-related cases in recent years. In one case, Muslim parents won a lawsuit demanding that they be allowed to dress their children in full-body bathing suits dubbed ‘burkinis’ during co-ed swimming lessons. In another case, a group of Swiss supermarkets created a stir by banning Muslim employees from wearing headscarves.

In August 2009, the Swiss basketball association told a Muslim player she could not wear a headscarf during league games. In August 2010, five Muslim families in Basel were fined 350 Swiss Francs ($420) each for refusing to send their daughters to mixed-sex swimming lessons.

In September 2010, the secretary of the Muslim Community of Basel was acquitted of publicly inciting crime and violence. The charges were pressed after the 33-year-old made comments in a Swiss television documentary saying that Islamic Sharia law should be introduced in Switzerland and that unruly wives should be beaten. The judge said the defendant was protected by freedom of expression.

In November 2010, Swiss voters approved tough new regulations on the deportation of non-Swiss immigrants convicted of serious crimes. The measure calls for the automatic expulsion of non-Swiss offenders convicted of crimes ranging from murder to breaking and entry and social security fraud.

Also in November, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said the approval or extension of residency permits should be closely linked to the efforts immigrants make to integrate themselves. “Compulsory schooling must be respected. Children should attend all courses and exceptions made on religious or other grounds, for example in swimming classes, should no longer be possible,” Sommaruga said.

In December 2010, the Federal Commission on Women’s Issues called for Islamic burqas and niqabs to be banned in government offices and in public schools. The government-appointed committee said the move would prevent gender discrimination.

In January 2011, a 66-year-old Turkish woman living in Bern was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for encouraging the father and brothers of her daughter-in-law to carry out an “honor” crime against her for her “risqué lifestyle.”

In May 2011, voters in canton Ticino, in Switzerland’s Italian-speaking region, collected enough signatures to be able to launch a referendum that would ban burqas, niqabs and other Islamic head dresses. If the referendum goes ahead, it will be the first time in Switzerland that citizens have been asked to express an opinion on burqas.

Also in May, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said increasing numbers of Swiss Muslims are training in Islamic militant camps in countries like Somalia and Yemen. In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Maurer also said that under current Swiss laws it is difficult to prevent Islamists from raising funds.

Meanwhile, an administrative court in Bern is expected to rule on the fate of a minaret in the town of Langenthal. Minarets are the tower-like structures on mosques from which Muslims are often called to prayer.

Muslims in Langenthal, a town with a population of about 15,000, had been given permission to build a minaret five months before a constitutional ban on minarets took effect in November 2009, but opponents of the project say the earlier approval is now null and void. The case is still working its way through the Swiss legal system.

In November 2009 Switzerland held a referendum in which citizens approved an initiative to ban the construction of minarets. The initiative was approved 57.5% to 42.5% by some 2.67 million voters. Only four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons or states opposed the initiative, thereby granting the double approval that now makes the minaret ban part of the Swiss constitution.

In July 2011, the European Court of Human Rights rejected two cases brought by Muslims against Switzerland’s constitutional ban on building minarets.

A seven-judge panel at the Strasbourg-based court said that it would not consider the cases as the plaintiffs failed to show how the ban harmed their human rights and they therefore “cannot claim to be ‘victims’ of a violation” of the European Convention on Human Rights, which the court enforces.

The minaret ban represented a turning point in the debate about Islam in Switzerland.

The initiative was sponsored by the conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which says the minarets symbolize the growing self-confidence and intolerance of Switzerland’s Muslim community.

The SVP has described the minaret is a “symbol of a religious-political claim to power and dominance which threatens — in the name of alleged freedom of religion — the constitutional rights of others.”

The SVP has backed its claim by citing a remark by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has implied that the construction of mosques and minarets is part of a strategy to Islamisize Europe. The pro-Islamist Erdogan has bragged: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.” Erdogan has also told Muslim immigrants in Europe that “assimilation is a crime against humanity.”

In recent years the number of mosques in Switzerland has mushroomed; there now are some 200 mosques and up to 1,000 prayer rooms dotted across the country. Critics fear the mosques are facilitating the establishment of a parallel Muslim society, one that is especially welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists.


This article was originally published by Hudson New York.


Wiccan-ism is the kind of irrational nonsense that only decadent Westerners could engage in (at least to any significant extent) in the declining stage of their civilization.   No wonder, some muslims think that they are going to be able "to conquer the world".

I appreciate your defense of cultural and social symbols, but want to refer a comment to another point.  I am not concerned over Nordic-esque Wiccans, or Pagans, etc.  They are little more than a curiosity.  What does concern me, however, are the "decadent" Christians who are more than happy submitting to Islam in the spirit of false reconciliation, never once understanding that one cannot make a pact with the Devil, and come out ahead.  It was Petyr Ouspensky who, when lamenting the naivety of Western liberal elites and intellectuals towards Soviet Communists, remarked that it is impossible to make a pact with the plague, and not then live in a plague-house oneself.

Probable agreement

@ mpresley

We can probably agree that there are different manifestations/versions of "decadence" possible.  The presence of the curiosity of "Nordic-esque Wiccans" does not exclude the presence of the kind of "decadent Christians" that you describe.    The first are silly, the second are merely stupid (but often well-meaning). 

It would likely be more difficult to reach agreement on specific human manifestations of the "Devil", but I certainly agree in principle that "pacts with the Devil" can be suicidal.   Also, I am inclined to make a (cautious) distinction between Nordic Wiccans and Englishmen who describe themselves as "Wiccan".  While I can try to understand, for example, people in the buddhist tradition of say Thailand or Burma, I find it very difficult to take serious Californians or English moviestars who claim to have converted to Budhism.   To make absolutely sure, I am NOT comparing Budhism to Wiccanism, far from it.  I am comparing people who know their origins with people who have lost their bearings.      


Wicca is a British Religion founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's, it is an initiatory religion and I am indeed initiated into a proper Wiccan coven with lineage going back to Gerald. Nordic Wicca I'm not sure what you mean by, but there are a lot of 'wiccans' who don't realise they are just Pagans and I don't look down on any of them for that. Dissalutionment with Christianity has quite a lot to do with the rise of Paganism. Marcfrans.... No, I'm not  a 'lost British Wiccan'.

@ SW

I admit in glossing over the term "Wiccan."  I knew a little, very little, but what I surmised is filled in with details after a brief Web search, and I was closer in my guess than not.

I still am not too worried about it, one way or the other.  As long as animals are not involved in an abusive manner, what is it to me if a group of like-minds get naked together in the woods in order to chant spells?  The founder is dead, I didn't see where he was politically radical, so it's not as if there will likely be an organized trip to Guyana for the remaining adherents in their immediate future.

That being said, I understand why some folks are disillusioned with politically liberal Christianity.  What I can't understand is how witchcraft, or any of the other non-Western religious forms (home-brewed or otherwise) can have much effect countering same.


Is that a wiccan term? And no, I'm not being facetious . People who make up their own religion also make up their own language and I'm just wondering if I'm missing some kind of cantotation in Wiccan - Christian relations? Or, our we simply circling around a simple spelling question? 

And since we are on the topic of English and what is a British Wiccan and what is not, what is your position on whether MacBeth should or should not be allowed to be produced in public? Furthermore, are British Wiccans in any way involved in the new movie Anonymous in which Shakespeare appears to disappear from his plays?

@marcfrans: religion, tradition, and its discontents

I am comparing people who know their origins with people who have lost their bearings. 

In the West there is an established tradition that claims, on one end, Greek philosophy and its consequents, and on the other, Christianity, itself a significant modification of Judaism to the point that it has little to do with its antecedent. For many today and for a variety of reasons the latter has not much to offer them. And because these folks are typically deficient in the former (philosophy), and because they cannot embrace the tradition's revealed religion, yet because they are steeped in liberal Enlightenment thinking, they are often drawn, as a substitute, to Christianity's secular manifestation, first Marxism proper, and now what we commonly call cultural Marxism. Interestingly, both early Christianity and its secular replacement stand in relation to religious Judaism and a secular Jewish derived materialism, respectively.

But some of these “lost souls” somehow know that materialism is a dead-end, although they cannot always understand very well exact reasons for their feeling. And because of it they are often drawn to rites that actually manifest traditionally within a legitimate (albeit foreign) context, say Buddhism. But what they know of it is often inauthentic, hybridized, and lacking a true racial-cultural link with a true past. As you point out, it is certainly not their past.  Others may hearken backwards to an even earlier Western tribal culture, and by way of an atavistic spirit attempt to regain a pre-Christian heritage, embracing what they believe to be true paganism. Alternately, some are known to lapse into a mish-mash of various quasi-philosophical occult systems, such as Theosophy, but whether they can do so without appearing ridiculous is another question.

Whatever the case and however it may be, traditional Christianity's attempts to integrate, or even peacefully coexist in propinquity to Islam is naïve, and the Christians will end up the worse for it. They could, however, likely live next to Buddhists, but Buddhists are not Muslims, and thinking that all religions are the same is like supposing that if your aunt were a man she'd be your uncle.


Thanks for your interesting speculative commentary.    I suspect that it cannot reach our 'lost British Wiccan', SeaWitch, but for some others it will no doubt provide food for serious thought.


To discuss flags and hymns in our times seems to me rather academic. When Britons like to eat Pizza, and Germans Kebab, national symbols (even plumpudding and sauerkraut) are loosing their importance. Yet, as Europeans are still not able to commit to Beethoven, we have to live with martial texts in hymns and 19th century flags.

Kappert as academic

Of course, you see flags and hymns as "rather academic".   You are a postmodern European, who has come of age under 'Pax Americana'. Hence, your conception of "commitment", to anything really, including your nations's constititutional order, is also "rather academic".    However, the day will come when you will understand the need for unifying symbols in any society that wants to survive.  Your enemies certainly do understand human nature better than you do.   By contrast, you seem unable to distinguish between your enemies and your (potential) friends.   


I see people rather as individuals. I wouldn't judge a person by the means of his/her affiliation to groups/tribes. But I recognise that many individuals need a groupthink harbour to feel stronger and adopt their behaviour. This kind of commitment serves as crutch. ...

The tribeless

That's a superb comment.  People like this person float on a sea of tranquility, rationality, and security and assume it's universal and timeless and maintained by beautiful people and beautiful absractions.  The more one drifts higher toward heaven because of his learning and higher sensibilities the more one can shake off the remnants of tribalism, crassness, and prejudice. 

When the order that is so academic falls apart, this gent will crawl on his knees to be able to pass the perimeter lined by people who made it their business to understand guns, understood the value of loyalty to their own, and didn't think it was their duty to embrace the feet of every insufferable third-world arrival in their land.

the horror of assimilation

It is not as if muslims in Europe were forbidden from practicing their religion. Traditionally minded people only wish for the collectively owned public realm to resemble what is left of the majority's culture, which means that the Swiss are correct to ban the further construction of mosques and head coverings. It would make no sense for these to have any place in Europe.

Will this spread?

When these things happen the idea tends to spread, will Muslims now demand a new flag for both England and Great Britain? After all, a St.Georges cross is very racist as well as an a front to Islam to many of them. I speak from a non Christian position myself...I am a Pagan, a Wiccan to be more precise. I would be furious if our flag was changed so as to conform to the demands of Muslim immigrants, rather than they be expected to conform to us, after all..they chose to come here!


Admittedly, I know little about "Wiccans", and trust that I am not the poorer for it.

It is reasonable to expect that immigrants should "conform" to their host societies (its laws and even its customs), but it is not reasonable to expect them to become "Wiccan". 

Please, explain in what sense an inanimate object like a flag, any flag, can be "racist"?  If your (ridiculous) point is that the English (as a group) are "racist" (*), how are they different from other peopleS in that regard?  And if all peopleS are, by and large, somewhat "racist", what is the point of employing such a term that does not make any relevant distinction? 

(*) Your (implied) point is obviously ridiculous, since the English have 'allowed' large-scale immigration of people from virtually all races.  How many other (nonEuropean) peopleS on earth do you know that would consent to such a development?

@ marcfrans

I thought my point was clear, just because my Nations flag has a Christian background I don't expect or demand it to change, it means much more to me....why should any Muslims think different? I live in an area that is now 85% muslim, I can tell you that a lot of people here see a Union Jack or St.Georges Cross flag as a symbol of the BNP or EDL first, perhaps you should ask some of them. I didn't make a point of saying we Britsh are anymore 'racist' than the next. And for goodness sake I just didn't suggest should become Wiccans...but those 'Islam will conquer the world' posters are not an unusual sight around here!


@ Seawitch

Yes, it was clear that you do NOT demand that your nation's flag be changed. 

But, you showed also confusion by referring to it as a "very racist flag". Hence, my question to you was: "how can a flag be racist?".   Your implicit answer SEEMS to be that the majority of muslims in your area do see it that way.   Whether that is so, or not, I do not know.  But, that would not be a valid reason for you to declare it so.  If anything, such an interpretation by your muslim neighbors would suggest that they are the ones who are "racist", ungrateful, and unpatriotic, all at the same time, and not your flag.    If arrogant newcomers say that they are going "to conquer the world", it behoves you from not adopting their silly language of referring to your flag as "racist".

And, yes, you did not suggest that immigrants to Britain should become Wiccans.   Not even your average muslim could be enduced to be that silly.  Wiccan-ism is the kind of irrational nonsense that only decadent Westerners could engage in (at least to any significant extent) in the declining stage of their civilization.   No wonder, some muslims think that they are going to be able "to conquer the world".           

not true

Second@s Plus does not want a new flag for Switzerland ( In a discussion, Ivica Petrusic (who is a Christian) discussed the transformation of national symbols and myths through time. Many European flags and hymns are centuries old, with words of glory for the national statehood, as it was en vogue in the 19th century. Some new proposals for a hymn can be heard on Second@s Plus homepage.


You missed the point. These elites who wish to switch the Swiss flag to something less "offensive" give Switzerland's islamic minority the impression that the Swiss are as disrespectful to their own cultures as western EU citizens are. Even if there is nothing wrong with the alternate flag that is proposed, none of these thuggish extremists should be appeased.

What is truth?

The truth can only be very elusive in a world consisting of muslim immigrants and of locals that profess to be "Wiccan" or that are Kappert-like living in denial.  

The Secondos in Switzerland launch a campaign for a different Swiss flag, and kappert manages to deny the obvious by claiming that it is about a "discussion".