Railway cannot ban placard critical of Israel

The posters were put up around Zurich's main station Keystone

The Swiss Federal Railways must allow a placard criticising Israel to be hung in the Zurich main railway station, according to a decision by the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne.

This content was published on July 13, 2012 - 15:20
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The placard commenting on Israel’s settlement policy had been hung in the station in March 2009. It contained the phrases "Israel: built with violence on Palestinian land” and “Injustice calls for resistance!”.

It had been put up by a placard posting company on behalf of a member of the Palestine Solidarity Action group.

The railway company had removed the poster, which hung for three days in several areas of the station, after being notified of its political content.

The Federal Court ruled that the poster did not exceed the boundaries of what is allowable, upholding a 2011 ruling by the Federal Administrative Court in Bern.

The court in Bern had found that the railway company’s policy violated the right to freedom of expression and that the use of the railway station’s walls by third parties had to conform with basic rights.

Given that the company did not forbid the posting of controversial political messages about national topics, such as fur coats or nuclear reactors, its ban on controversial foreign political messages went too far, the court found.

Controversial campaigns

Other national poster campaigns that have proven highly controversial include the Swiss People's Party's 2007 "Black Sheep" campaign calling for the deportation of foreign criminals and a 2009 campaign portraying minarets as missiles, which preceded a vote on allowing minarets in Switzerland.

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