Bern calls for new office to debate questions of religion

In this news article from Switzerland’s The Local, the possibility of a new religious affairs office being opened is discussed. This office would tackle questions of religious tolerance and freedom, primarily concerning people of the Muslim faith. Examples of religious societal conflict are given, such as a student who took her school to court when it banned her from wearing her hijab, as well as a different school that attempted to fine the parents of a pair of male Muslim students who would refuse to shake their female teacher’s hand due to religious belief. The article mentions the reason for this increasing interest in religious ordinance: the percentage of Muslim population in Switzerland rose from 0.2 percent in 1970 to 5.1 percent in 2015. Issues such as the two mentioned above, as well as a third, where a popular swimming pool banned the “burkini,” (a type of swimwear designed to fit Muslim religious codes) have become much more prominent as the Muslim population of Switzerland has increased. This has led to religious conflict as Muslim traditions and beliefs clash with traditional Swiss beliefs. The proposed religious affairs office would help mediate this conflict much more effectively, and has gained the support of the Swiss Council of Religions.