Police chief warns right-wing extremism is rising

There has been a dramatic increase in right-wing extremist acts in Switzerland, according to the federal police chief, Urs von Daeniken.

This content was published on August 8, 2000 - 15:52

In an interview with the "Neue Luzerner Zeitung", von Daeniken said that both the number and gravity of offences were rising.

Von Daeniken told the paper that right-wing extremists are becoming more dangerous, and that they have access to assault weapons and explosives. But he said Switzerland's security was not at risk. "The situation is a concern, but the security... of Switzerland is not under threat."

His comments come a week after the finance minister, Kaspar Villiger, was heckled by right-wing protesters during his speech to mark Switzerland's national day last Tuesday.

Von Daeniken said although incidents of extremism were on the rise in Switzerland, he didn't believe they would become as severe as in neighbouring Germany.

"It's true that things are moving in that direction. But in Germany there are different historical and social forces in operation. There they have big right-wing parties. The Swiss scene, on the other hand, is extra-parliamentary, fragmented and on a smaller scale."

In the interview, Von Daeniken made a plea for greater resources to help police tackle the problem, in particular an increase in personnel.

He also suggested introducing travel bans to prevent foreign extremists from entering the country and stirring up xenophobia in Swiss cities. According to a report in the "Basler Zeitung", the Basel cantonal justice department is concerned at an increase in the number of right-wing extremists active there.

Von Daeniken said the police were coordinating actions in the cantons to deal with the right-wing threat, but he also called on cantonal authorities to undertake their own actions, such as imposing bans on marches and other extremist activities.

Police say the Internet is increasingly being used by right-wing groups to communicate with each other and recruit followers. Thirteen websites run by suspected right-wing extremists have been monitored or closed down in Switzerland.

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