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Sunday papers Spy software, vanishing parishioners and violent asylum seekers

The parish church "Santi Pietro e Paolo" in Ascona, canton Ticino

The parish church "Santi Pietro e Paolo" in Ascona, canton Ticino

(Keystone)

Here’s a round-up of some top stories in the Swiss Sunday papers.

China wants to use Swiss technology to broaden its surveillance powers over the billion-strong population, according to the SonntagsBlick. The paper said Beijing had tried to acquire surveillance software produced in Switzerland through a front company, but at the last moment the Swiss government prevented the deal – which the SonntagsBlick said was “as good as done”.

Inconsistencies in export documents were noticed by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairsexternal link (SECO), which didn’t want to comment on the details but said the technology involved “software solutions that can be used for repressive means”.

Asylum centres

The number of incidents in Swiss asylum centres more than doubled last year to 1,145 (from 531 in 2015), according to the NZZ am Sonntag. Of these, 70% could be dealt with by private security services, but in 30% of cases – almost one a day – the police had to be called.

The figures were taken from a report by the State Secretariat for Migrationexternal link (SEM). One notable statistic was that more people actually applied for asylum in 2015 (around 40,000) than last year (around 27,000).

The SEM put the increase in the number of incidents down to an “unfavourable constellation of countries of origin” (i.e. the asylum seekers clashed), “excessive alcohol consumption” and “uncooperative and defiant behaviour”.

Churches

While flocks are fleeing traditional Protestant and Catholic churches in Switzerland, numbers are booming in Christian churches attended by migrants.

Over the past 15 years, members of the Protestant church have fallen from 2.4 million to 1.7 million and of the Catholic church from three million to 2.5 million, according to the SonntagsBlick.

Quoting figures from a recent study by the Swiss Pastoral-sociological Instituteexternal link, the paper said that since the 1950s around 35 new Christian migration communities were formed every decade; since 2000, however, there have been 112.

Many traditional churches were selling or renting their buildings, the study confirmed. Currently 157 foreign-language communities rent churches or use them for free. A survey by SonntagsBlick showed that in the Bern area alone 24 properties are currently rented to foreign-language communities. In Grafstal, canton Zurich, a Coptic community is using the church and in Perlen, canton Lucerne, a Serbian Orthodox community is doing the same. 

swissinfo.ch/ts

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