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I am sorry for the offtopic message, I just have get this off my chest: please, let´s fight this xenophobic madness in all the corners of the world!

My friend was attacked in Zurich. She was finally pregnant after some years trying (I witnessed everything, we were classmates at university) and she lost her twin baby girls.

Media says that a day before the attack, Switzerland conducted a referendum to decide if the country would authorize an openess of the labour market to workers from Bulgaria and Roumania. The proposal in favour of openess won and some people did not take this very well.

From the press:

"The Swiss are considered to be ambassadors of peace but it appears amidst them Nazis live and cause havoc inside their country.

On Monday, a woman was found heavily injured at a Zurich train station, and had letters carved into her skin. And when the police found her she told them she suffered a miscarriage.

Paula Oliveira, 26, a Brazilian citizen moved to Switzerland three years ago and is currently working for a Swiss company A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S. Before the attack, she was pregnant with twins and about to get married soon.

Oliveira was apparently talking to her mother in Portuguese, when three skinheads, one with a Nazi symbol tattooed on his forehead, attacked her suddenly and scratched those initials of the Switzerland’s main right wing party on her skin.

Brazilian newspapers posted pictures of Oliveira before and after the attack. The pictures showed the initials SVP shortened form of “Schweizerische Volkspartei” (Swiss People’s Party) on her stomach and legs".

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Comment by Marília Maciel on February 18, 2009 at 4:20pm
Hi Jovan!

I also read this message after posting my answer to your last comment :)

I understand your anecdote and it applies to the case. My last posting pointed exactly to this direction. We can take advantage of the fact that this issue was brought to the spotlight and generate a good outcome, which in my opinion could be to reinforce the opposition to any form of prejudice, racism, xenophobia.

The case of the Brazilian girl has developed in an awkward way. Police says she was never pregnant, that the injuries could have been self-inflicted. I have just saw on the news that she´s been criminally prosecuted.
From the start, for me it´s very hard not to be personally involved. We had a group of very close friends at university and she was part of it. We studied together, we discussed together, we went out together. I dried her tears and she dried mine on sad moments we´ve been through. In all these years no one (her friends, professors, family) have seen any bad trace on her and we only have the best things to say about her. She´s intelligent, hard worker, competent. Psychologists claim that a disease she has on her immunologic system may cause delusions and paranoia on rare cases. No matter what happened, the outcome will be very sad.

I have nothing else to say, but to give testimony of who she has been with us. I believe this is my obligation. I hope the case is treated with celerity and humanity. We have asked the human rights movement to follow the case and give support to her family, specially now that they will have to stay in the country.

The important thing is that her case (whatever the outcome) does not prove or deny the existence of prejudice, racism and xenophobia. As you said, it exists all over the world, and gets worse in a context of crisis. People get afraid to say something against xenophobic extremism because they don´t want to be seen as “unpatriotic” and not enough motivated to “fight” for their jobs and their quality of life.

The tensions tend to rise because of economic problems, environmental disruptions, shortage of water, migrations… Every society must ask itself “What is the role of our countries in this context? What do our policies stand for”?

Thanks again for the comment

Best wishes!

Comment by Jovan on February 18, 2009 at 11:25am
I read this after sending the previous comment. As you indicated it was the reaction to the YES-vote on the referendum for Bulgarian/Romanian citizens. It is an horrible act. Yesterday, I read an article in the Geneva press about it. What can the society do? There are a few possible steps. One is the police investigation (immediate). The other step is to raise the issue in media and public discourse. Such people should loose even "tacit" backing of parts of population that could be inclined towards xenophobia.

Since this case is emotionally powerful I have to be careful in drafting one reflection. Let me start with anecdote from the former Yugoslavia. In the late 1990s General J. Lang (the commander of the East Slavonia UN-zone) was woken up after midnight by urgent phone call. Lang's deputy informed him that two policemans of the new UN-trained police were caught smuggling cigarettes and alcohol. On the first glance it was a serious set-back for the UN which tried to create a new police force in Croatia that should have confidence by both Croats and Serbs. But the bad news came with some good news. General Lang was was informed that two policemans were of Croat and Serbian origins. They managed "to cooperate" in this endeavor.

Back to our story...... It is "good" that there was no racial connotations in this case. There was another recent development in South Africa along similar lines. Black people from South Africa attacked black people form Zimbabwe. They saw refuges from Zimbabwe as the threat for their life-style (jobs, social security). What could we learn from such cases? Racism, religious hate and xeonphobia are much more complex than Huntington presented it in the "Clash of Civilization". Hate has very often roots in socio-economic problems (poverty, discrimination). Nowdays, it is also multiplied by media-coverage and spin. Moreover, for politicans in many countries the easiest way to justify their mistakes is to accuse "others" (being people of different religion, race, sex... you name it and you have it). Now, in "normal time" of the economic stability such approach to politics is manageable (it was possible to keep hate and tensions "in the bottle"). Nowadays, the risk is much higher. Economy does not work, societies are in the flux, people are afraid for their jobs and security. Politicians must become more responsible. They must become statesman. I hope that people like Obama or most of the Swiss political elite (not as visible as Obama) will provide example of statesmanship by thinking beyond the horizon of next elections, by facing problems, by communicating news that may not please broader public, by... by...
Comment by Ingba Solomon on February 13, 2009 at 10:13am
This is horrible. We should not be allowed in this era of globalisation.



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