Muslim pastoral care to remain an option in Swiss asylum centres

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 A spiritual guidance offer is good news both for asylum seekers and asylum centre staff, SEM says. © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

After a “very positive” trial period which began in 2021, Muslim pastoral care offers will now be extended indefinitely in Swiss asylum centres, authorities have announced.This content was published on January 31, 2023 – 13:55January 31, 2023 – 13:55


Such an offer is a “precious resource”, wrote the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) on Tuesday: both for asylum seekers themselves as well as for staff at the centres, who benefit from the religious, cultural, and linguistic knowledge of the counsellors.

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The decision to extend the offer comes after a trial launched in 2021 was judged a success by experts from the University of Fribourg and the Swiss Centre for Islam and Society.

The project involves six pastors who work in asylum centres across the country. The costs come to a total of CHF450,000 ($485,776) per year.

Positive impact

Pastors from the national (Christian) churches also back the project, and have reported positive collaboration with their Muslim counterparts, SEM wrote.

Last week, authorities said a proportional decrease in the number of violent incidents in Swiss asylum centres last year was in some part thanks to the influence of conflict mediation officers and of the Muslim spiritual counsellors.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, 5.6% of the Swiss resident population in 2021 identified as Muslim, while just under 60% were some form of Christian, and 32.3% had no religious affiliation.

Imams have also been providing counselling for Muslim inmates in Swiss prisons for some years already.


MoreThe imam who guides Muslims in Swiss prisonsThis content was published on Jun 23, 2017Imam Mustafa Memeti has been counselling Muslim prisoners for nearly 25 years in several Swiss prisons.


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