Swiss train service is ordered to allow signs that claim ‘Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land’
A Swiss court has ordered the state’s national train service, the SBB, to allow a pro-Palestinian group to hang anti-Israeli posters in Zurich’s central train station, the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported on Tuesday.
Members of the Palestine Solidarity Action first attempted to hang controversial posters in several locations within the station in 2009, but were ordered by the station’s management to take them down after three days.
The posters appeared to argue against Israel’s right to exist. “Sixty-one years of Israel, 61 years of injustice,” the sign read.
“A country without a people did not exist in the Middle East for the people without a country,” it claimed. “Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land. The injustice demands resistance!”
After being banned from hanging up their materials, the group appealed to the Federal Administrative Court in Berne, claiming that the measure violates their freedom of speech.
Tages Atnzeir reported that the court has sided with the plaintiff in the case, and ordered the train service to allow the movement to distribute their materials. The SBB can appeal the ruling, but it is unclear whether it will do so.
According to the report, The Swiss train service argued in court that its policy prohibits the distribution of materials on sensitive foreign affairs issues. The court rejected the claim, stating that a train station is a public place and as such, it is a place for the exchange of opinions. By banning the posters, the judges asserted, the station prevented the citizens from being exposed to different opinions on international affairs.
Moreover, the court concluded that the content of the signs does not endanger the public, does not include graphic pictures, and does not incite to violence or other illegal activity. “Resistance does not mean violence,” they said.
The judges further determined that the posters were removed after hanging for three days, during which demonstrations did not erupt and the trains service was not disrupted.
(www.ynetnews.com / 13.04.2011)