The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

City of Bern wants no more large demonstrations until Christmas

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 8 November 2023

The city of Bern will no longer authorize large demonstrations and parades in the city centre from 17 November until Christmas. This was announced by the city government on Wednesday.

City of Bern wants no more large demonstrations until Christmas
A fence separates the Federal Square from the Federal palace during a rally in solidarity with Palestine under the slogan “Freedom for Palestine”, organized by over 30 organizations, including Palestinian groups in Switzerland and far-left organizations such as Der Funke Schweiz, at the Federal square, in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday, November 4, 2023. (KEYSTONE/Anthony Anex

The reason given was that the public squares were already heavily used. Numerous events and large-scale occasions were imminent. However, there are also safety-related considerations.

Smaller demonstrations, such as vigils, could still be approved in the center of Bern. Demonstrations are also possible in the rest of the city.

Cantonal security director Philippe Müller (FDP) had previously called for Palestine rallies to be avoided. He said in an interview with the Tamedia newspapers that there was a high probability of violence at the next rally.

“When manifestors turn against Switzerland, spit at police officers and raise their fingers at the Federal Palace on command, the right to hospitality is definitely being abused,” said Müller. “I therefore call on people to refrain from further such rallies.” However, the licensing authority is the city of Bern and not the canton.

Thousands of people showed their solidarity with the Palestinians on the Bundesplatz on the past two Saturdays. The atmosphere at the rally was loud and sometimes heated, but not violent. The police kept a low profile with a large contingent.

Open questions

On the election weekend of October 21/22, the cities of Bern, Zurich and Basel did not allow any Middle East demonstrations. They justified this with concerns about personal injury and damage to property. The decision was criticized by experts in constitutional law: It would take more than indications of the tense situation to not authorize demonstrations.

“We have not examined whether a ban would be legitimate,” Müller said in the interview. He added that his opinion could also be expressed in other ways. “You could organize a vigil, for example in Wankdorf City.”

Reto Nause (center), the security director of the city of Bern, was initially unavailable for comment on Wednesday.

©Keystone/SDA

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