Anger at immigrants from Switzerland to South Africa

I was planning to tell you what the Swiss will vote on in about a week when blulitespecial sent me this interesting article about anti-immigrant riots in South Africa.  Two countries on separate continents with very different cultures and they are both blowing up, each in its own way, about immigrants.

According to Time, citizens of Switzerland will vote on a constitutional amendment that would leave decisions on who will become a naturalized Swiss citizen up to the local community!  Can you imagine it! The Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has collected the requisite 100,000 signatures to bring the referendum to a national vote. 

A staunch proponent of tighter immigration policies, the SVP says Switzerland naturalizes more foreigners than any other European nation, and official figures seem to support that claim. The party charges on its website that more than half of all citizenship requests — in 2006, approximately 50,000 were granted in this country of 7.5 million — go to [Muslim] immigrants from the Balkans and Turkey. The SVP claims those immigrants commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes and abuse Swiss social and welfare benefits. Some official statistics do attribute the rise in serious infractions to resident foreigners, but the numbers are not clear. For example, official statistics show that in 2007 nearly 70% of all prisoners in Switzerland were foreigners, but some experts say that is because foreigners are considered a flight risk and are more likely to be sent to prison than local criminals.

The SVP argues that in a country based on grassroots democracy where voters can challenge any legislative decision by launching a referendum, the people, not what the party considers to be lenient government authorities, must approve each citizenship request.

In Switzerland the people vote while in South Africa the response to immigrants has been violent.   

A wave of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa spread to Cape Town on Friday, even as troops and police appeared to have quelled the unrest in the hotspot of Johannesburg.

Police reported attacks against immigrants and foreign-owned shops in a slum area of picturesque Cape Town.

The southern coastal city is a major draw for tourists and had thus far been spared the mob violence seen in Johannesburg.

At least 42 have been killed, more than 500 arrested and 16,000 displaced in the province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, since unrest broke out 12 days ago.

Police spokesman for the Cape Town area Billy Jones said a public meeting to address the danger of xenophobia in the Dunoon slum area 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the city degenerated into violence on Thursday evening. 

I read the article several times to try to figure out who was killing whom and in addition to a reference to Pakistani immigrants the only other group mentioned was a vague reference to people coming from Zimbabwe.  But, who is being violent?  Surely not the majority blacks!   I didn’t think it was possible for blacks to be xenophobic, I always thought that was just a white malady. 

Foreigners in South Africa, many of whom have fled economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, are being blamed for sky-high crime rates and depriving locals of jobs.

The violence, which has done untold damage to South African’s reputation as the “Rainbow Nation,” is also taking its toll on the country’s economy.

What is the “rainbow nation?”    I went to Wikipedia to learn more about South Africa as the “rainbow nation.”   You gotta laugh!   South Africa is run by the African National Congress which is a leftist (Marxist really) political party that has extolled the virtues of multiculturalism.   Here’s what Wikipedia said:

South Africa is often called the “Rainbow Nation”, a term coined by  Archbishop Desmond Tutu  and later adopted by then President Nelson Mandela. Mandela used the term “Rainbow Nation” as a metaphor to describe the country’s newly developing multicultural diversity after segregationist apartheid ideology.

The term was intended to encapsulate the unity of multi-culturalism and the coming-together of people of many different races, in a country once identified with the strict division of white and black.

Our elected officials (and Presidential candidates) can put their collective heads in the sand but the anger is growing about uncontrolled immigration and only time will tell how each country facing the same problem will solve the crisis— with the Swiss model or the South African model?

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