Racist remarks against Turks in Swiss textbook to be removed

March 26, 2012, Monday/ 17:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Racist sentiments found to be insulting to Turks will be removed from a Swiss textbook as a result of an anti-racism campaign by a Turkish parent, the Sabah daily reported on Monday.

A Turkish parent residing in Italy, Yasemin Taşkın, who works as a Rome-based reporter for Turkey’s Sabah daily, launched an anti-racism campaign after her daughter was forced to write a passage claiming that Turkish people believe women only exist to get married and have babies.

Taşkın’s daughter, Selin Ansaldo, who studies at the Swiss School in Rome, was shocked on Sept. 18, 2011, when, in German class, her teacher made the students write down the following sentences: “Most Turkish women exist to get married and give birth. It is unnecessary to educate them.”

The text, written in German, was dictated by Roger Schumacher, a German teacher of Swiss origin, to secondary school students. Taşkın found out that the paragraph was taken from a textbook approved by Swiss education authorities. She and her daughter have launched a petition for the removal of racist remarks directed at Turks from the Swiss curriculum. This campaign produced results; The Italian government supported the Turkish parent in her struggle to fight racism. The Office against Racial Discrimination (UNAR) warned the Swiss school over their racist attitudes and instructed the school management remove the racist content from the school’s curriculum. UNAR also instructed the school to be more careful in preventing racism and to monitor the teachers more closely.

UNAR also warned the school to participate in activities held by Italy’s Ministry of Public Education (IMPE) to combat racism, violence and ethnocentrism at schools. UNAR also reportedly promised to support all legal attempts made by the Turkish parent in her anti-racism campaign.

The UNAR also condemned Edwin Züger, the principal of the school, who said the teacher did not dictate the text intending harm and admitted that the paragraph the students had to write down was from a textbook used in the Swiss curriculum. During an interview in January, Züger also defended the book for doing a good job of analyzing themes such as integration and migration.

The Turkish Embassy in Rome expressed strong condemnation of the text in a diplomatic note sent to the Embassy of Switzerland. The note was also sent to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and to the Turkish Embassy in Bern after the incident first surfaced by the press.

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