Recently, the Swiss federal statistical office published preliminary results of a survey on Switzerland’s attitudes toward foreigners, which included questions on nationality, race, language and religion.
The survey, which questioned 3,000 people across Switzerland, was designed to take the pulse of multicultural coexistence in Switzerland, a nation which is home to people of more than 190 nationalities and more than 10 religious groups. The survey covered permanent residents in Switzerland and wasn’t confined to Swiss nationals.
Overall, 36% said they could be bothered by the presence of people of a different nationality, religion, skin colour, language, or lifestyle.
At the same time, 66% recognized racism as an important social problem.
On a daily basis, foreign languages bothered those surveyed more than race, nationality or religion. Differences in nationality or skin colour bothered 6% of those surveyed, compared to 10% for religion and 12% for language. These annoyances were felt most in professional life.
Beyond annoyance, 14% claimed to be fearful of foreigners. Fear wasn’t reserved exclusively for foreigners. 4% were afraid of Swiss.
When questioned regarding religion, Muslims were viewed most negatively. 14% voiced hostility towards Muslims, compared to 8% towards Jews.
The survey made an important distinction between Islam and its followers. The percentage mistrusting Islam, as opposed to followers of the religion, was 33%, a figure far higher than the 14% voicing hostility towards Muslims.
The survey also questioned those on the receiving end of discrimination. In 2016, 27% of the population said they had experienced discrimination over the last five years. Among this group, 54% said the discrimination was based on nationality, particularly when job hunting.