Justice minister steps up fight against right-wing extremism
The Swiss justice minister, Ruth Metzler, is considering tightening measures to fight racism. In an interview with the "Blick" newspaper, she announced that she had charged the Federal Police Office with carrying out a review of procedures.
Metzler's announcement comes a day after the federal police chief, Urs von Daeniken, reported a dramatic increase in right-wing extremism in the country.
Metzler told the paper she was very concerned by the trend, but pointed out it wasn't a new phenomenon. And she welcomed public debate on the issue. "I'm glad that the public and politicians are now discussing the right-wing threat so intensively... Much has now become clear: there is a problem."
Referring to Switzerland's national day celebrations on August 1, when the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, was heckled by skinheads, Metzler said the police had to examine ways of preventing right-wing demonstrations involving racist gestures and emblems. "This examination will take place," she said, "I have already agreed this with the Federal Police Office."
On Tuesday von Daeniken said both the number and gravity of offences were rising.
He said right-wing extremists were becoming more dangerous and had access to assault weapons and explosives. But he said Switzerland's security was not at risk.
Von Daeniken said although incidents of extremism were on the rise, he didn't believe they would become as severe as in neighbouring Germany.
In the interview with the "Neue Luzerner Zeitung", von Daeniken made a plea for greater resources to help police tackle the problem, in particular an increase in personnel.
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