Racist politicians are certainly nothing new. Trying to prosecute politicians for being racist? Now that is a contemporary phenomena. In recent news the rightwing Swiss People’s Party have been making headlines for their evasion of discrimination prosecution. In September, the Zurich public prosecutor’s office opened a racial discrimination case against People’s Party parliamentarian Alfred Heer after he claimed on regional television show “Tele Züri” that Tunisian asylum seekers are all coming to Switzerland with”the aim of becoming criminals.”
As it currently stands, the Swiss Parliament is examining the case after Heer claimed parliamentary immunity. What is ironic is that Heer committed a crime by calling the Tunisians criminals. What I find hypocritical is that apart from his defamatory crime, Heer is committing a further crime by evading arrest, or rather, prosecution. Perhaps we can rest somewhat assured knowing the track record of the parliamentary office enforcing this double standard… err I mean… investigating the accusations. In fact it is the same office that investigated the allegations against Alexander Müller who tweeted in June “Maybe we need a new Kristallnacht… this time against the mosques.” Apparently Müller was fired from his committee membership position, publicly apologized and resigned from the right wing party. The Swiss will certainly not tolerate any invocation of Holocaust references, which is wise considering their problematic M.O. during WWII.
While there is certainly something to be said about the discriminatory associations being made between brown Tunisians and criminality, it is important to note the lineage between political asylum seekers and criminals, of criminals seeking political asylum. While this certainly does not excuse Alfred Heer’s remarks especially since his understanding is that Tunisians are planning on coming to Switzerland to commit crimes, whereas the above points to the fact that asylum seekers were historically criminals, or accused of crimes. Asylum hosts reconciled their fear that those granted asylum would engage in criminal activity by making asylum contingent on the asylee abiding by the rules else be thrown to the wolves, and hence the motivation for not engaging in criminal activity. Considering the ease with which infractions can be committed in contemporary society (think traffic violations or possession of drug charges which are seen as federal crimes it would be absurd to expect this nowadays.
What tends to be the reality of political asylum seekers and other undocumented individuals is that they become the targets for criminals to take advantage of THEM. As a result from their necessitated low profile, they cannot rely on the law enforcement system to police those who harm them because as non-citizens they theoretically do not have any rights and could be face deportation as a consequence.