Swiss police to investigate KKK carnival costumes

Swiss police are investigating after a video emerged of people wearing hooded costumes resembling those worn by the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan during carnival celebrations earlier this week.

Swiss police to investigate KKK carnival costumes
A legal expert told Swiss media it would be hard to establish criminal guilt over the costumes. File image. AFP

A video of the incident in the town of Brunnen in the canton of Schwyz shows a group of around a dozen hooded figures carrying burning torches along a street.

The passer-by who captured the video said he was shocked. “That is definitely taking it too far,” he told Swiss news site 20 Minuten.

While many things are acceptable during carnival “there have to be limits”, he said.

Police are now investigating footage and photos of the incident, Swiss news agency SDA reported.

But lawyer and racism expert Daniel Kettiger told 20 Minuten. said it would be difficult to establish members of the group had been guilty of racial discrimination in the current case.

This was because no specific race or ethnicity had been directly and demonstrably targeted by the group and because their appearance had come during the context of carnival celebrations when there is a relatively high tolerance for satire.

But Kettiger said the case would be very different if the group had marched past an asylum home where most of the residents were black.

“That would be violation of anti-racism laws and punishable by law,” he said.

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Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite ‘racist’ ties

A Swiss town on Wednesday refused to rename the Agassizhorn mountain despite its namesake's espousal of racist views.

Switzerland sticks with mountain name despite 'racist' ties
Switzerland's Agassizhorn. Image: Creative Commons

The 19th century Swiss geologist Louis Agassiz was known for research into fish, fossils and glaciers, but he has also been criticised in recent years for defending racist ideas.

After emigrating to the United States in 1846, Agassiz argued for racial segregation and hierarchies, and fiercely attacked Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

IN PICTURES: Powerful images from anti-racism protests across Switzerland 

But mayor of the town of Grindelwald, Beat Bucher, disagreed with those who wanted to change the peak's name, saying: “We cannot erase the stains of history.”

In a reference to the central Swiss summit, Bucher added: “It is better to accept it with its positive and negative aspects.”

The mountain peak, at just under 4,000 metres (13,000 feet) is shared by two other municipalities, Guttannen and Fieschertal, which had already rejected a bid to rename it.

A fresh effort was made after the killing in late May of George Floyd, an African American asphyxiated by a white police officer, generated a global wave of revulsion against racist symbols.

A similar push to rename the mountain was rejected in 2007.