Swiss Youth and their Faith(s)

A recent study by Christopher Morgenthaler of Bern University on the relationship between Swiss youth and religion has shown that religion remains an important part of their lives: 40% characterize themselves as a “religious person,” somewhat higher than in France (35%), the UK (32%), or Germany (32%), though far behind Italy (84%). More surprisingly, the study seems to show that highly-religious youth are in fact more accepting of religious plurality than other groups.
The relationship between youth and religion in Switzerland has also been studied by other experts, such as Janine Dahinden from the University of Neuenburg, who speaks of a new “do-it-yourself-faith,” highlighting the eclectic belief system of the youth. On the other hand, Andreas Tunger-Zanetti of the University of Lucerne prefers to highlight the aspect of “religious illiteracy” that is to be found among Swiss youth today.
The study showed that youth with a migratory background belonging to non-Christian groups (Muslims or Hindus) were in general more religious than others. However, even they are not as anchored in their beliefs as certain Christian groups, and often the “homeland” in general plays a greater role for their identity than their religion.

Gaddafi calls for jihad against Switzerland

During a speech in Benghazi on Thursday, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi characterized Switzerland as a country of “unbelievers” and “apostates.” Playing off of the recent referendum that banned minarets, he claimed that Islamic houses of worship were being destroyed in Switzerland, and before a crowd of thousands called for “a Jihad using all means.” He continued by stating that Jihad against Switzerland, Zionism, and foreign aggression was not terrorism, and that any Muslim who did business with Switzerland was an unbeliever and was taking sides against Islam.

According to Islam expert Hasni Abidi, not only is Gaddafi not qualified to pronounce on the issue of Jihad, but his words carry no weight in the Arab world. The speech was linked to the current bilateral crisis between Switzerland and Libya, which began when Gaddafi’s son Hannibal was briefly arrested in June 2008 on charges of having mistreated staff at a hotel in Geneva. Moreover, Abidi says that this call carries no danger of being echoed by Islamist groups – especially given that Libya has sided with the USA in the fight against groups like Al-Qaida. For Reinhard Schultz, the director of Islamic studies at Bern University, more than anything Gaddafi sees this issue as a question of family honor; thus his insatisfaction with Swiss responses, which so far have been at the diplomatic and political levels.