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Prominent figureheads launch anti-racism campaign

Swiss video artist, Pipilotti Rist, is among 500 high-profile personalities to support the campaign. Keystone / AP Photo / Louis Lanzano

A petition for tolerance in Switzerland has received the backing from around 500 prominent personalities from the worlds of Swiss politics, culture and sports.

This content was published on August 17, 2000 - 09:05

The petition was launched by a committee, which is also campaigning against an initiative aimed at cutting back the proportion of foreigners in Switzerland to 18 per cent of the total population. In addition, the panel has called for a new approach to policy towards foreigners.

The first 500 signatories of the "Appeal for a tolerant Switzerland" are figureheads in Swiss society, including the avant-garde video artist, Pipilotti Rist, the former football star and coach, Andy Egli, and the cabaret performers, César Keiser and Magrit Läubli.

The non-parliamentary committee which launched the petition is being backed by the Social Democrats, the Green Party and several trade unions along with a number of women's' associations. Politicians who signed the campaign paper include the transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger, and the Social Democrat member of parliament, Christiane Brunner.

The committee is fighting for a clear "no" to the seventh initiative since 1964 aimed at limiting the number of foreigners living in Switzerland. The people will vote on the initiative on September 24.

The body also hopes the high-profile petition will help stem the recent wave of xenophobic attacks in Switzerland, which they say are becoming gradually acceptable to right-of-centre groups.

In addition, the signatories are demanding a policy towards foreigners which is not only committed to human rights but also to facilitating their integration into Swiss society, and easier access to Swiss citizenship.

A total of 181 Swiss members of parliament have so far openly declared their opposition to the "18 per cent initiative".

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