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Swiss online platform “Without you” urges support for foreigners

When Switzerland voted by a very narrow margin in a referendum in February to restrict immigration, three Swiss citizens felt moved to do something about it.

Von: NNA staff
So they set up the online platform “www.ohnedich.ch” (Without you) on which anyone can post a picture of themselves with a foreigner to signal their opposition to the results of the vote. In the February referendum which provoked keen international interest, 50.3 percent of Swiss voters favoured restricting immigration into the country. The platform, which now has English, French and Swedish versions as well as the original German, intends to show clearly what Switzerland would lack without its foreign immigrants. In the first three days alone after the website went online, Swiss media reported 300 citizens posting photos of themselves with a foreign friend to demonstrate their solidarity. Quotes below the photos include: “Without you…I would be so alone” or “Without you…there would be no best friend” or “Without you…work would be no fun” or “Without you…I would see many things differently”. Meanwhile word appears to be spreading and it is not just Swiss citizens who are posting on the website but other nationalities with a foreign friend as well. A positive response Berni Stoller, a graphic designer from Zurich, came up with the idea of the platform. The results of the referendum had left him “pretty disillusioned” he told the commuter paper 20 Minuten. His thoughts had been with the foreigners who would have to live with the knowledge that more than half the Swiss were critical of immigration. He wanted to set something positive against the negative headlines in the wake of the referendum. A team comprising Stoller, web architect Silvan Groher and programmer Ralph Moser developed and published the website. The platform’s success took its initiators by surprise. The “Opposition to Mass Immigration” initiative that led to the referendum originated with the conservative and nationalist Swiss People’s Party (SVP). “Spread love and friendliness for foreigners. With your statement you can help sending positive vibes into the world,” urges the website. END/nna/ung/dmg Item: 140422-01EN Date: 22 April 2014 Copyright 2014 News Network Anthroposophy Limited. All rights reserved. 

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