Swiss Government Trends Towards Increasing Muslim Population

Switzerland's stance towards the increase of Muslim immigrants in its territory has been increasingly attributed as conservative or reactionary, for gradually demonstrating greater nationalist trends in relation to the arrival of new ethnicities. The growing entry of Muslims in the country brought as a reaction movements against the establishment and practice of cultures coming from the Middle East by the Swiss state.

The country, whose contemporary history is marked by the immigration and emigration of diverse populations, and for good relations with its neighbors despite not being a member of the EU, have approximately 20% of the population composed of foreigners, one of the highest percentages of any country, including refugees and workers with permanent residence.. Among the main reasons for the reluctance of free movement of foreigners coming from countries that do not comprise the Schengen Area, are the crime rate rising, of terrorist attacks in the last decade, the drop in job offers for natives and the economic insecurity in the face of the pandemic. Such factors help ignite anti-immigration feelings in nationalist groups., it is important to emphasize that, one of the causes for the large numbers of immigrants is the need for skilled labor by Swiss companies.

Although a humanitarian or economic crisis is not imminent, the Swiss government justifies its concerns about the increase in Muslims in these three pillars. In addition, although it has a large percentage of foreign inhabitants, Switzerland does not consider itself a country of immigrants, demonstrating that the concern for the native population of its current government highlights interests or ideals that seek to welcome people from different countries and ethnicities.

In view of recent actions taken by the Swiss State regarding the Muslim population and the manifestation of their respective culture in Swiss territory, such as the recent law that regulated the ban on wearing the burqa., by some swiss cantons, it is possible to infer that there is a tendency towards ethnic and religious conservatism that is increasingly present. An example of this, is the fact that the last referendum that contests the use of the religious accessory, got a small majority of 51,2% of the population against its use, with 20 From 26 cantons approving its ban. Therefore, the Switzerland, although well known for policies in favor of free movement of people and goods between countries of the European Union, despite restrictive immigration quotas, is increasingly closed to the possibility of receiving new immigrants from Muslim countries, as well as providing them with safe conditions in terms of employability, and tolerance in the religious sphere.

​Finally, it comes to the conclusion that restrictive policies regarding the increase in Muslim immigration tend to grow, due to constant conflicts in the Middle East and the current right-wing Swiss government. However,, long-term, Switzerland could face changes in its social and economic system in the face of the increase of Muslims in the country.


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Authors Thomas Bauer Corsaro and Priscila Cesarino, NENE/ESPM researchers

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The European Studies and Business Center (NENE) is linked to the Brazilian Center for International Business Studies & Corporate Diplomacy (CBENI) from ESPM-SP. It was created considering the need to stimulate the Brazilian and Latin American academic community to better understand their relations with Europeans, seeking to understand and deepen the Brazil-European Union Strategic Partnership.