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Racism body criticises anti-Germany feeling

German speakers in Switzerland are facing increasing prejudice, with more references to Nazis being bandied about, the Federal Commission against Racism says.

The body said on Friday it was particularly concerned with the reaction in some Swiss quarters to recent criticism of the country's banking secrecy laws by Germany's finance minister, Peer Steinbrück.

After Steinbrück compared the Swiss to Indians running scared from the cavalry, parliamentarian Thomas Müller of the centre-right Christian Democratic Party said the finance minister reminded him of the "generation of Germans who marched through the streets in leather coats, boots and armbands".

The idea was taken up in the media, who started referring to "the German question" of how many Germans Switzerland could tolerate. Stereotypes and negative comments from readers also abounded on internet sites referring to "nasty Germans".

"In light of the offensive reactions that we have observed in recent days in the Swiss-German press, the commission must stress that Germans today have the right to not be associated with Nazism," the commission stated.

Such a propensity to see Germans as unwelcome competitors affected people of German origin who live in Switzerland while also damaging social harmony, the commission added.

swissinfo with agencies

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