Anti-WEF protests in Switzerland, January 2003


Anti-WEF protests in Switzerland, January 2003

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland (January, 2003)triggered anti-globalization protests across Switzerland. Access to the town of Davos was blocked by the police of Grisons, with reinforcements from other cantonal and, unprecedentedly, even Austrian, police forces and on Saturday, January 25, the day scheduled for a protest march in Davos, only selected protesters were allowed to pass.

In the afternoon, some of the protesters that were turned away outside Davos traveled to Berne, where the demonstrations quickly degenerated into full-scale riots, with thirty arrested and three policemen injured, but the police succeeded to prevent the rioters from entering the historical center of the city. The director of the Bernese police, Kurt Wasserfallen, referred to the events as "terrorism".

Meanwhile, the protesters that were allowed to enter Davos demonstrated peacefully, securely cordoned off from the WEF participants. One group appeared in monkey costumes, wearing masks of various world leaders, adoring a golden calf they carried around with them. Between bursts of adoration, they were bashing an inflatable globe with plastic clubs. In spite of Osama Bin Laden being portrayed as raping the planet in unison with George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the protest may be classified as an example of supposed widespread anti-Americanism in Europe on the eve of the Invasion of Iraq (the protesters also carried a large modified U.S. flag).

One image of this protest, photographed by Fabrice Coffrini, is believed by opponents of the anti-globalization movement to be an example of anti-Semitism within the anti-globalization movement. On this image, a protester wearing a mask of Donald Rumsfeld and a yellow, six-pointed cardboard "sheriff" badge is portrayed carrying the golden calf, and next to him, another protester impersonating Ariel Sharon is wielding a plastic club. The Rumsfeld character's badge was interpreted as alluding to the Star of David, or even to Nazi concentration camp badges, an interpretation that arose because low-resolution versions of the image were circulated in news reports, where the "sheriff" text on the star was not legible anymore. Since other images of the protest show that only "Rumsfeld" was wearing such a badge, and show no other aspects that would single out Israel together with the USA, this reading appears to be based on the Coffrini image exclusively.

External links

* [http://www.20min.ch/diashow/index.tmpl?showid=1468 slideshow of the Berne riots] (20min.ch)
* [http://switzerland.indymedia.org/de/2003/01/3471.shtml Collection of reports on the protests] (indymedia.org)
* [http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=5389#comments discussion of anti-semitic subtext in the Coffrini image] (littlegreenfootballs.com)
* [http://www.remote.ch/search/search.dbc?WHAT=wef other images of the "monkey" protest] (remote.ch)


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