People’s Party strongman, Christoph Blocher, has sparked fresh controversy by comparing criticism meted out to him with the treatment of Jews by the Nazis.
Speaking on his own internet television service, TeleBlocher, about recent revelations concerning the financing of the Basler Zeitung (BaZ) newspaper, he described criticism of himself and the paper’s editor in chief, Marcel Somm, as springing from “paranoia”.
“It reminds me of the time when the word was: ‘Don’t buy from Jews!’” he said.
Author Charles Lewinsky told a Swiss public television current affairs programme on Friday that he was shocked not only as a Jew, but also as a Swiss, to hear such a thing.
History professor Philipp Sarasin told the same programme he found it “obscene” that Blocher should trivialise Nazi policies in such a way.
But historian Roger Köppel, the editor of the Weltwoche weekly which is close to the People’s Party, said that although the comparison was “drastic and provocative”, he could understand Blocher’s reaction, since he had often been unfairly denigrated in the past few years.
The row over the Basler Zeitung erupted when it was revealed last week in the German-language press that one of Blocher’s daughters had signed the papers in connection with the purchase of the newspaper in 2010. Blocher had always denied he had any financial involvement “directly or indirectly” in the purchase.
Many readers suspected that the new ownership wanted to make the paper into a platform for People’s Party ideas.
But the new chairman of the BaZ-holding, Filippo Leutenegger, said in an interview with the paper published on Saturday that it would continue to reflect different opinions and not follow any party line.
Nevertheless, several hundred people gathered for a protest meeting in Basel on Saturday against the owners of the BaZ and its editor.
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