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Persona non grata Thousands petition Swiss cabinet to shun Trump

Anti-Trump activists sending a message in the Swiss capital

Anti-Trump activists sending a message in the Swiss capital

(Campax)

Thousands of petitioners have formally asked the Swiss government to block US President Donald Trump from visiting Switzerland.

About 9,700 people have signed the petition circulated by Zurich-based NGO Campaxexternal link, which handed the signatures to the Federal Chancellery on Monday – Presidents’ Day in the United States.

The petition is a reaction to Trump’s controversial immigration order, which temporarily barred refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Declared void on legal grounds, the executive order is now under revision.

Campax says its mission is to maintain and develop Switzerland’s open democracy. As part of the petition handover in Bern, Campax activists sang a song in English to the tune of “Happy Birthday” with the lyrics:

“Happy Presidents’ Day to you,
It’s a hard job you’ve got to do.
We believe it’s not the right thing
For an old man like you.

Happy Presidents’ Day to you.
Happy Presidents’ Day to you.
We’ve seen enough by now, Mr President,
Resigning is the best thing you can do.”

Campax video

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Campax wanted to present the signatures to the US Embassy in Bern as well, but the American institution was closed on account of the federal holiday back home. As of Tuesday, Campax had nearly met its goal of 10,000 signatures for the online petition.

“These people do not agree with the current American policy of exclusion,” said Andreas Freimüller, president of Campax. “Should the Trump’s entry ban be reissued by his administration, we expect critical words from the Swiss cabinet. Human dignity and religious freedom are too important to be sacrificed in the name of neutrality.”

Official visits from the United States are rare, and it seems unlikely that Switzerland would bar an American president. However, the Swiss cabinet is obliged to at least acknowledge the petition.

“In the case of petitions made to the cabinet, the responsible department usually submits a reply to the petitioner,” Federal Chancelleryexternal link spokeswoman Sonja Margelist told swissinfo.ch. The signatures remain with the chancellery, which forwards the petition and any accompanying documents to the relevant department.

“There is no deadline for answering the petition. A reply is not required, but in practice, almost every petition is answered,” Margelist said.

In January, about 500,000 people in Britain signed a similar petition, which the parliament there rejected. Last summer, parliamentarians in Mexico City declared Trump unwelcome in response to his promise to build a wall to cut Mexico off from the US. Parliamentarians in Panama City did the same in 2011 after the real estate tycoon said the US was stupid to give the Panama Canal as a gift.

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