Tribune de Genève.
The traditional Swiss shirt, blue with small edelweiss flower motifs, has again created conflict at a Swiss school in the canton of Zurich. Last week ten young people arrived at Gossau secondary school wearing the shirts. According to the newspaper Sonntags Zeitung, their teacher demanded they change their clothing. Why? She considered their behaviour xenophobic.
The students were said to have wanted to show that they were proud patriotic Swiss, not against foreigners but nevertheless unhappy with those who express distain for their country. There have reportedly already been tensions at the school between young Swiss and others from the Balkans.
Questioned by Sonntags Zeitung the school’s director distanced himself from the shirt ban. The edelweiss shirt that several pupils wore does not violate the school’s dress code. The teacher involved admitted that she overreacted. At the same time the director did not condone the students’ behaviour. Pupils need to be made aware of the message sent when ten people all wear these clothes. They need to be warned about all forms of extremism. The pupils feel misunderstood “Headscarves are allowed but we get told off for wearing edelweiss shirts. We don’t understand.”
Gossau has around 10,000 inhabitants of which around 10% are foreign nationals.
A school in Luzern, that had similar problems in March, temporarily banned the same shirt. The school’s director wanted to calm tensions between Swiss and Albanian pupils. This ban drew criticism from five Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP) politicians and the school went back on its decision.