Sunday, January 28th Weekly Round Up

Sunday, January 28th Weekly Round Up

Sun, Jan 28th 2024

From border interventions to homeopathy scrutiny, the latest Sunday Swiss News brings pivotal updates. Salafist preacher’s entry denial, church abuse probe, and rail network improvements headline this week.

©Keystone/SDA – TODD KOROL

Salafist preacher turned away at Swiss border, Reformed Church wants abuse investigation, and FOPH scrutinizes homeopathy: this and more can be found in the Sunday newspapers. The headlines in unverified reports:


Mohamed Hoblos is a star of the Salafist scene. The Australian’s sermons are speeches of rage. Among other things, he shouts into the microphone: “Any person who misses even a single prayer for no reason is worse in the eyes of Allah than a murderer, a rapist, a pedophile, or a terrorist!” Many celebrate him for this – the Islamist has over 400,000 followers on YouTube alone. According to SonntagsBlick, Hoblos wanted to perform in Switzerland two weeks ago, invited by a group of young Salafists.

The men only wanted to announce the exact location at the last minute. But then the authorities intervened. Hoblos was stopped by police officers shortly after landing at Zurich Airport. He was not allowed to leave the building. He spent the night there – and went again the next day. The radical preacher was registered in the Schengen Information System.


Anyone traveling by train from Basel, Schaffhausen, St. Gallen, Buchs SG, Brig, and Chiasso to the Swiss interior often needs a lot of patience. Delays are the order of the day for long-distance trains traveling from Germany, Austria, and Italy to Switzerland. This often leads to long waiting times at border stations. And it jeopardizes connections within Switzerland.

SBB is now taking action, as the SonntagsZeitung writes. They are negotiating measures with the railroads of Germany, Italy, and Austria. For example, they look into earlier train departures from Milano Centrale to Bern, Basel, and Geneva. For the Munich-St. Gallen-Zurich route, it is planned, among other things, that the trains will no longer appear actively in the Swiss online timetable and will only be used for descending in St. Gallen. SBB is also discussing various suggestions for improvement with the Austrian Federal Railways.


After the Catholic Church, an abuse study has shaken Protestants in Germany: over 9,355 children and young people are said to have been abused.

Rita Famos, the head of the Swiss Reformed Church, announced an investigation in Switzerland to SonntagsBlick: “The investigation would be in good hands at a university. We will discuss this topic in the next two synods. Everyone is in favor of the investigation. The question now is which path we take,” said Famos. “It’s not primarily about being able to present a figure. We need to identify our blind spots and structural problems. And we need to enter into dialog with those affected. They deserve recognition.”

“Le Matin Dimanche”:

The popularity of laughing gas among young people at parties is causing concern among Swiss politicians, writes “Le Matin Dimanche.” In contrast to Switzerland, several European countries have already taken measures. Councilor of States Marianne Maret (center/VS) has now submitted an interpellation.

“We are noticing that the problem is spreading,” she told the newspaper. “The consumption of this product seems to be increasing rapidly. The longer we wait, the more we will find ourselves reacting rather than preventing.” Laughing gas causes uncontrolled laughter for two to three minutes. However, too intense or too regular use can lead to unconsciousness, asphyxiation, long-term paralysis, and even death.


The federal government is conducting proceedings that could be the beginning of the end for homeopathy in primary insurance. According to the SonntagsZeitung, it was initiated by a 73-year-old citizen who wanted to end the special treatment of globules. Last fall, he submitted an application to the Federal Office of Public Health for a controversial procedure.

It is intended to clarify whether homeopathy should continue to be covered by compulsory health insurance (OKP). It concerns the criteria of efficacy, appropriateness, and cost-effectiveness (WZW), which must be fulfilled. The procedure that has been initiated is politically explosive, as the special treatment ultimately goes back to a referendum in 2009. At that time, a two-thirds majority voted to improve the status of complementary medicine in the healthcare system.

“NZZ am Sonntag”:

In Switzerland, not all employees are insured against loss of earnings in the event of illness. Politicians in Bern are now discussing introducing compulsory daily sickness benefits insurance. Next week, the Council of States Health Committee will debate a motion to this effect.

The issue directly receives support from several renowned law professors, as the “NZZ am Sonntag” writes. In a letter to the Health Committee, they call for a reform of the system. “The current structure of continued salary payments and daily sickness benefits is complex, unclear, and unfair,” said Kurt Pärli, Professor of Private Social Law at the University of Basel.


On January 1, 2024, tens of thousands of pensioners had their supplementary benefits cut. Several thousand people on low incomes even lost this state support completely, as SonntagsBlick writes. Official information on the consequences of the reform throughout Switzerland has yet to be made available. However, several cantons disclosed their provisional data to the newspaper on request.

In the canton of Bern, 18,500 dossiers were reassessed due to the reform. Eleven thousand recipients of supplementary benefits have reduced their support – and around 1,000 Bernese citizens have no longer been entitled to additional benefits since the turn of the year. The situation is similar in other cantons. Based on projections, the Swiss Conference for Social Welfare (Skos) expects that around 8,000 EL recipients throughout Switzerland, two-thirds of whom are retired people, will lose their entitlement to supplementary benefits.

It is estimated that about 70,000 people across the country have received fewer additional benefits since the turn of the year.


Self-employed carpenters, garage owners, photographers, and gardeners are much more likely to suffer from poverty in old age than retired employees. A study shows this, as the SonntagsZeitung newspaper writes. Small tradespeople are not obliged to pay into a pension fund during their working life. Only a good 50 percent of them have a second or third pillar. This is one reason many tradespeople have to live on a subsistence level in old age. But it is not the only one: the study shows that, on average, self-employed people earn less than employees before they retire. The fact that many self-employed people have poor pension provisions is one of the reasons for the strong support for the initiative for a 13th AHV pension.

“NZZ am Sonntag”:

Farmers are among the poorest pensioners in the country. Despite this, the farmers’ association rejects the popular initiative for a 13th AHV pension. However, there is a seething anger among farmers.

Many farmers have no pension fund and could urgently use the boost. The left wants to use this for its campaign, as the “NZZ am Sonntag” writes, citing a memo from the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions. “People from the agricultural sector have the lowest pension incomes,” it says. According to the paper, female farmers are particularly affected. “The mood at the grassroots level is different to that of farmers’ politicians,” said union boss Pierre-Yves Maillard. The Aargau Farmers’ Association board has decided to vote against the proposal but has never communicated this.

“NZZ am Sonntag”:

The “Stop the Blackout” initiative wants to overturn the ban on constructing new nuclear power plants passed by voters in 2017. It is now about to be submitted, as the NZZ am Sonntag writes.

As the initiative committee explains, it will be forwarded to the Federal Chancellery on February 16. The electricity industry has criticized the initiative. “It is the wrong way to go,” says Michael Wider, President of the umbrella organization of the Swiss electricity industry. “We haven’t even started implementing the energy strategy and are now supposed to throw it overboard.”

The initiative also needs to be clarified in its wording. In business circles, abolishing the nuclear power plant construction ban enjoys much sympathy. However, they share criticism of the initiative’s inadequate text. Influential business representatives are, therefore, already discussing an alternative: a counter-proposal could iron out the weaknesses of the initiative. Several sources confirmed this to the newspaper.


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