Immigrant youth are ‘Made in Switzerland’

by Susanne Schanda in Lucerne,

A new book indicates that religion plays an important role in identity-building among adolescents with immigrant backgrounds in Switzerland.

The authors of “Youth, Migration and Religion”, which was presented at a roundtable at Lucerne University, say public discourse on immigrants has changed in Switzerland as well as in other Western countries.

Today, Turks, Moroccans and Kosovar Albanians are lumped together collectively as “Muslims”; Islam has become the religion of others.

Hence, Catholic Albanians or Egyptian Copts in Switzerland are glad to point out their Christianity and emphasise the commonality between their native land and their new country.

The research project that spurred “Youth, Migration and Religion” began in the heated public discussion of Islam. Its intent was to play down the drama surrounding Islam, while simultaneously taking it seriously in the social dynamic of Swiss society.

But researchers also found that although religion is an important factor in establishing identity in the young, second generation of immigrants, it is not the only one.

Bridge-building function

“Depending on the situation, young immigrants use national, religious or ethnic categories to distinguish themselves or indicate belonging,” ethnologist Brigit Allenbach, one of the authors, told


Young Swiss muslims gather after a protest meeting (Keystone)

4 replies

  1. Christians and Muslims in Switzerland

    350,000-400,000 Muslims live in Switzerland. About half are from the ex-Yugoslavia.

    10% of the 200,000 Albanians in Switzerland are Roman Catholic.

    About 1,000 Coptic Christians from Egypt live in Switzerland.

  2. It is interesting to observe that Catholic Kosovars and Muslim Kosovars will have more or less the same attitude towards for instance ‘premarital sex’. Consequently one wonders whether the Culture is more important than the religion? (OK, real Catholic and Muslim views on this topic are actually the same, but the Western European (and other) Catholics have forgotten it).

  3. Problem with such analysis are mixing up of religion with the culture. One remains reluctant to change the religion but with passage of time culture does change. After living for 23 year in Europe, my perception is Swiss has a reputation where different cultures are hardly welcomed. Follow UK and get richer in this field.

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