Update: 05.06.2007

Synagogue on fire in Geneva

A synagogue in Geneva was badly damaged by a fire on 24 May 2007, but no one was hurt and the main religious objects were removed intact. According to the Swiss investigating magistrate, it was the result of arson and not caused accidentally. The investigations go in all directions – anti-Semitism being one of them. Ron Aufseesser, leader of Geneva’s Jewish community, noted that the synagogue had received no threats and that no anti-Semitic message had been left at the site.

Indignant reactions

Local authorities as well as local Muslim, Catholic and Protestant religious communities immediately expressed their concern and deplored this attack.

Switzerland's president, Micheline Calmy-Rey, issued a statement on June 2nd expressing sadness and concern after the announcement that the fire was an act of arson. She conveyed solidarity with the Jewish community and said anti-Semitic acts were unacceptable and an insult to Switzerland's tradition of dialogue.

The Federal Commission against Racism resolutely condemned the attack on the Genevan synagogue. It called for retaining the anti-racism law (art. 261bis of the Swiss Penal Code), which had been discussed in an experts hearing on May 23.

Johanne Gurfinkiel, secretary-general of the Geneva-based French speaking Jewish communities, the Intercommunity Coordination against Anti-Semitism and Defamation (CICAD), said the community was shocked and greatly concerned, and is calling on the authorities to make every effort to see the investigation through. CICAD also declared being concerned by the ‘odious’ attack, but that it did not necessarily represented an escalation of anti-Semitic activity in the country.

Annual report of anti-Semitic acts in French-speaking Switzerland

At the end of April CICAD published  its annual report (in French) on the situation of anti-Semitism in French-speaking Switzerland for the year 2006. The report observes a slight decrease of anti-Semitic acts, with 67 cases in 2006 against 75 in 2005 and 34 in 2004. The report studies the federal and cantonal legislations and examines the media; it also gives recommendations. CICAD also calls for the maintenance of the anti-racism law.

© humanrights.ch / MERS - Hallerstr. 23 - CH-3012 Bern - Tel. +41 31 302 01 61