An image published yesterday on Albanian daily, panorama.com.al, and repeated by some other portals shows a banner with graphical instructions that apparently only Swiss language(s) should be spoken in a Swiss office.
According to panorama.com.al this image was sent to them by a reader and if this can be verified it should ring alarm bells to all Swiss-Albanians and also Kosovo and Albania diplomats who live in Switzerland.
This wouldn’t be the first time that anti-Albanian imagery is displayed in Switzerland.
In 2001 a poster from the right-wing Swiss People’s Party appeared. It read simply “Kosovo-Albaner Nein”, or “Kosovar Albanians No”.
It was a campaign against public funding for integration centres for immigrants from Kosovo.
Over the last decade, regular campaigns by the People’s Party, against immigration, or against relaxing Switzerland’s strict laws on citizenship, have targeted the Balkan community, and in particular the Kosovar Albanians.
A succession of party posters blamed them for everything from rising crime, to drug dealing, to speeding offences, and falling educational standards.
And while many Swiss publicly expressed shame at such open prejudice, in the privacy of the polling booth, many support the party, voting in favour of limiting immigration, and even banning minarets.
And there is evidence of more systematic discrimination. Studies by the Swiss Federal Commission on Racism showed that young people with Balkan surnames had a far smaller chance of getting a job or an apprenticeship than those with Swiss names.
So stark was the divide that Zurich introduced a regulation requiring employers to assess applications for apprenticeships without knowing the names of the candidates.
The history of Albanian diaspora in Switzerland
Today in Switzerland live around 100,000 Swiss of Albanian descent.
In the 1970s and 80s, Switzerland actively recruited workers from what was then Yugoslavia. The idea of course was that just the men would come, and, once their work was finished, they would go home.
But the best laid plans of Swiss industry did not foresee the implosion of Yugoslavia, the civil war in Bosnia and war in Kosovo, originally home to Switzerland national team footballers Xherdan Shaqiri, Granit Xhaka, and Valon Behrami.
Many of those temporary workers became permanent; some were granted refugee status, their families joined them.
Today, there are almost half a million people of Balkan origin in Switzerland. And among the country’s total population of eight million, almost two million are not Swiss.
But many Swiss have been slow to come to terms with such a demographic change.