Back from jihad: The citizens that Switzerland would like to disown


By Samuel Jaberg

Aug 31, 2016

Switzerland is considering several options against jihadis, including the application of a law stripping them of their Swiss nationality

Should a young dual citizen be stripped of his Swiss passport after going to fight for the Islamic State in Syria? Authorities are considering the possibility, but the effectiveness of such measures is up for debate.
Politicians across Europe have called for similar legislation, most recently in France

Switzerland is no exception, with parliament having discussed the issue at length. Ultimately, the House of Representatives approved a parliamentary initiative from the conservative right Swiss People’s Party to automatically withdraw citizenship from dual national jihadis, but the Senate threw the proposal out in June.

A ‘radical’ measure

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the government is considering measures similar to those proposed in Germany.
How many Swiss have been stripped of citizenship?

Withdrawal of citizenship is historically associated with dictatorships and the emergency powers introduced in wartime. Between 1940 and 1952, 86 people had their Swiss passports withdrawn for security reasons. One of the most recent cases was in 1945, concerning a citizen of canton Obwalden who had joined the Nazi party in Germany.

Since 1953, there have been no cases of Swiss citizens by birth being stripped of their citizenship. But Article 41 of the Swiss Citizenship Law, which provides for the cancellation of naturalisation if this status was acquired fraudulently, has been invoked more frequently: between 2006 and 2015, 567 people had their passports withdrawn retroactively, whether or not they were also citizens of another country.

“We are examining whether it would be possible, in specific cases, to withdraw Swiss citizenship from a person of dual nationality who goes off to jihad,” says Léa Wertheimer, a spokeswoman for the State Secretariat for Migration

(SEM). “Following the withdrawal of the person’s passport, the federal police (Fedpol) could then ban the person from re-entering the country and deal with the direct threat they pose to Switzerland.”

Automatically withdrawing citizenship would go against the rule of law, and Wertheimer agrees that stripping a person of their nationality is, in any case, a “radical measure”. She says the government’s proposal would be used on a case-by-case basis, “applied only after painstaking investigation and in exceptional circumstances”.

The proposal is based on a never-before-used provision of the Swiss Citizenship Law introduced in 1953. It says that the Swiss government may withdraw citizenship from a person of dual nationality whose behaviour causes “serious damage to the interests or reputation of Switzerland”. But according to the migration office, the provision can only be used in extremely serious circumstances such as atrocities or war crimes, or if the person concerned represents a real threat to Switzerland.

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7 replies

  1. Would stripping someone of the Swiss citizenship not be a ‘cowardly way out’ ? It would mean ‘passing the black peter’ to another country, which may have been less involved in that person (for instance if he has grown up in Switzerland).

    It was and is shortsighted not to bring European (and other) citizens back to their relative countries. It was obvious that the Kurds will not be able (nor willing) to keep them in their jails for long.

    All countries should muster their courage, take their citizens back and prosecute them ‘back home’.

    Just for the record: I am definitely NOT in favor of this criminal terrorist organization, which is blackening the name of the peaceful religion of Islam.

  2. What happens if these animals decide at a later date to turn on their own country?

    which is blackening the name of the peaceful religion of Islam.

    The evidence, however, tells us something completely different. Perhaps if the Qu’ran was revised and edited then such a statement might hold more water.
    Maybe you could suggest a revision/edit?

    • absolutely not. How come many leading citizens converted to Islam, after trying to find ‘faults’ and not finding any ? Politicians from the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland. Journalists from UK and USA ? all trying to find leads to terrorism and only finding leads to peace and love?

      • Many Muslims may claim their religion is one of peace, and there is no argument that there are plenty of peaceful elements to it. However, like all Abrahamic religions, Islam is founded on superstition, death and blood, and like the bible, the Qu’ran reflects this in bucket-loads.
        Remember, according to history, one of the last acts Mohammed did was amass a large army and invade Syria. So, please, donpt come and waffle on about religion of peace as it most paently is not and to say so is simply disingenuous.

        People convert to a religion through indoctrination, tacitly or overtly.

      • From where do you get all these horror stories? Can you give us a reference to the source of your very warped information, please?

        I would suggest that you also read about what Islam really is and it’s history at to get your perspective right.

        To make a fair argument you should educate yourself on the other side, too, you know

        After all the 3 Abrahamic faiths have a really HUGE following in the world and while some of the followers might be highly questionable, the majority are definitely NOT!!! Therefore, you might do yourself quite a lot of good by educating yourself about how they came to be, etc.

      • Which horror story had you in mind?
        Would you like to start with 9/11?
        Every suicide bombing?
        Or should we go right back to the beginning?

        Are you disputing that Mohammed amassed an army to invaded Syria prior to his death?

        The foundations of the Abrahamis faith sare built upin sperstcion, death and blood.
        The evidence tells us.
        Perhaps you are one of those who does not understand critical thinking and is a typical example of an indoctrinated follower?

  3. A citizen is a citizen and the country should deal with them accordingly. What would Switzerland do to its own ‘citizens’ (born and been there through generations), if they’d joined Daesh?

    This is one world, planet where all this is happening and the miscreants should be dealt with according to the criminal laws of the country. Not passed on to another place where they might cause more havoc and take ‘revenge’ on the country that they were ousted and/or disowned from? There are all kinds of weirdos out there…

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