Access to the historic Rütli meadow for Swiss National Day celebrations will be limited this year in response to disruption by rightwing extremists in the crowd.This content was published on January 18, 2006 - 16:16
The annual gathering on August 1 will now be a ticketed event with a limit of 2,000 people, the authorities have decided.
In 2005, up to 700 rightwing extremists jeered and heckled during the Swiss president's speech. The troublemakers booed and whistled at Samuel Schmid when he referred to the integration of foreigners.
A free ticketing system will be put in place to make it easier to screen the public attending the event, said the Rütli Committee, the association which organises the day, in a statement.
"We will do everything to make sure the national celebration takes place with dignity and without incident," said Herbert Amman of the Rütli Committee.
The local governments of cantons Uri and Schwyz and the federal authorities have agreed to the new rules.
The organisers said they regretted that the new measures were necessary due to the incidents that took place last year.
The Rütli Committee will give a more detailed breakdown of the security measures in April.
Last year was the tenth year in a row that rightwing extremists made the journey to the meadow on the shores of Lake Lucerne, with their numbers increasing each year.
There are an estimated 1,000 such militants in the country but they are not well organised, according to the latest federal police report on extremism.
It remains to be seen if the new security system will be sufficient. One long-term observer of the extremist scene in Switzerland, Hans Stutz, told public radio the measures were "quite naive".
Stutz said it would be difficult to identify exactly who would book tickets. "As the Rütli meadow has several points of access, those who want to go there without a ticket will still be able to do so."
According to legend, representatives of the three founding Swiss cantons met on the Rütli meadow in 1291 to form an alliance against the Habsburgs, their feudal lords.
swissinfo with agencies
Swiss National Day on August 1 was introduced at the end of the 19th century to mark the founding of the Swiss Confederation in 1291.
For the past decade, rightwing extremists have attended celebrations on the Rütli meadow, known as the cradle of Switzerland.
In 2005, President Samuel Schmid was heckled by extremists when he referred to the integration of foreigners and the importance of other cultures.
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