Antisemitism and Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech is highly valued in Switzerland. Comparable to other rights, the freedom of speech is not absolute. In situations in which an equal or higher right is infringed, a freedom can be restricted. This is particularly the case, when human dignity, protected by the Anti-Racism Legislation, is attacked. Incitement of hatred against a specific race or religion or other ways of degrading them are examples of such attacks.

“One can criticise all religions, except Judaism” – an often heard accusation. Obviously this is not the case: the Jewish religion can be criticised, just as any religion can. Anti-Racism Legislation protects individuals, not the religion itself. Criticising Christianity, making jokes about Moses or caricatures of Mohammed, which do not degrade or discriminate against members of that religion, are not a legal offence. The statement “I believe that the Jewish religion is bad” does not break any laws. However, someone stating publicly “Jews are bad” must consider facing legal ramifications. The same applies, when one states, that members of a specific population group are violent or criminal.