by Susanne Schanda in Lucerne, swissinfo.ch
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.
“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 swissinfo.ch.