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Pro-immigration mayor resigns over threats

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14:33 CEST+02:00

The mayor of a small town in northern Switzerland has left office after positive comments he made about immigrants were met with insults and threats directed at his family.

Josef Bütler, the mayor of Spreitenbach, made the decision after he discovered that defending the integration of immigrants in Switzerland can turn into a nightmare. More than half of the town's 11,000 inhabitants are of foreign origin.

On August 24th, Bütler participated on the TV show Schweiz Aktuell. Asked about the high proportion of foreigners in Spreitenbach, the Christian Democract praised the coexistence of Swiss and foreigners and said that for him immigration represented a “challenging enrichment.”

It was this remark that provoked an anonymous campaign of hate against Bütler. After his appearance on TV, he received several insulting phone calls and had threats made against him and his family.

No longer able to resist the pressure, he made his resignation official late last week. Bütler had been mayor of Spreitenback since 2006.

"As a father, I must and will protect my private environment,” he said on Monday, again on the show Schweiz Aktuell. He also explained that his decision had come after long and intensive reflection.

February 29th will be his last day heading Spreitenbach. Council members across the political spectrum condemned the anonymous threats and expressed their dismay over Bütler’s resignation.

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