The Courts of the Canton of Basel, Switzerland, Forbid Religious Symbols

June 14, 2018

In the canton of Basel-City in northern Switzerland, the courts have modified their rules and forbidden judges, court clerks and legislative judges to wear “religious symbols” in courtrooms.

This decision from the courts was provoked by the job application of a woman wearing a Muslim veil in the picture on her resume. According to, “it has been determined that justice is held to religious independence and neutrality.” The court’s ruling does not, however, mention the veil explicitly, but simply speaks of employees “wearing such symbols”, that could also include crosses.

Other persons involved in court cases, lawyers, interpreters, experts, and witnesses, are not affected by this rule that will become effective in the summer of 2018.

According to the Federal Statistic Office, in 2011 there were nearly 321,000 Muslims over the age of 15 living in Switzerland, which represents 4.9% of the population. Today, there are an estimated 400,000 Muslims living on Swiss territory.

In numbers, it is the third most important religion in the country after Catholicism (37.4%) and Protestantism (27.8%). And according to a survey from 2017, 38% of the Swiss feel threatened by the Muslims living in the country, compared to 16% in 2004, a 137% increase.