“Because you know sometimes words have two meanings.”
-led Zeplin “staircase to heaven”
When the word “neutralized” in Israeli media is mentioned,we often think of a violent situation such as a terror attack ,it means a terrorist is no longer able to harm others either because his weapon has been removed,he is in police custody or dead but in any case it means UNABLE TO HARM anymore.
In Swiss media and communication,the term neutralized means something else,it refers to an ideal situation in the context of cultural clash where a person’s ethnic identity no longer stands out in public in a recent context where two Syrian teenager boys had refused to shake the hands of a teacher after class which in swiss culture means a sign of respect.
The swiss decided on a heavy fine of 5,000 swiss franks on anyone refusing to shake hands even for reasons of cultural or religious rules and in this case a religious rule not to have contact between the two genders before marriage.
One can argue that the refugees ought to integrate into the culture into which they had emigrated ,i myself felt uncomfortable pledging alligiance to the American flag but complied with the rules of the public school system,my son had to participate in christian christmas games and celebrations,walk through a cemetery on the light festival similar to halloween ,both forbidden to our religion but if i were to remove my son around christmas and easter from school and control the content of his school experience,not only would my son had been an outcast but would have missed a lot of the activities.
The latest news this week regarding cultural clashes involve a Moslem woman who wished to wear a headscarf while working in a supermarket in the little town where i live.
The swiss claim to wish to keep the public supermarket culturally and religious free..but we all know how culturally and religious free the swiss supermarkets are from about two months before christmas and two months before easter..
So it is not about keeping the christian majority religion neutralized but about the minority religions neutralized.
One can not help thinking that Moslem praying places must be kept without a tall tower,a Moslem woman may not wear a headscarf to work and Moslem boys must shake the hands of a woman teacher contrary to their customs and thus the Swiss have supposibly neutralized the work place but one never hears of a battle to neutralize a Buddhist or Jewish icon or custom except the traditional slaughter not allowed by the Swiss thus penalizing religious Moslems and jews forcing them to purchase imported meat.
To neutralize people of their ethnic look seems to me fascist and since there are 400,000 Moslems living in switzerland and 20,000 jews it seems a bit absurd that the seven million swiss should feel the need to neutralize them ,well more Moslems neutralized.
To balance the ethnic centristic laws the swiss schools teach a class in world religions in the primary schools but of course the pupils who actually practice other religions may not wear their religious identity with pride thus sending a clear neutralized message of intolerance.
I would have prefered an openly racist attitude than a hidden one which then takes away the possibility of an open debate.
Since swiss are only neutralizing people they do not need to argue against claims of racism and of course hefty money fines will be sure to neutralize most people from arguing their case.
The swiss are extremly good at inforcing money fines.One has a limited time to argue then one can talk to the hand,fines increase each day they are left unpaid thus trapping the fined in a golden cage if one refuses to pay.
Last week the zurich police pepper sprayed a mentally unstable man who was arguing with his wife and flipped out,the swiss police neutralized the man leaving him to suffocate in a prison cell to death
So paying money might be a better idea than to find one self in prison even in a gold cage.
After all the refugees had been through one would expect a more gentle approach or to point out on a large blackboard the basic cultural differences between swiss and Moslem customs.
Making headlines and dragging young learners to court seems a poor choice for a country so proud of its ability to remain out of conflicts by being neutral.
Empathy might be a good class to teach those accepting traumatised refugees from war zones.