Religion Magazine

A Cross Word

By Richardl @richardlittleda

A sting on the tail

Before I write anything about the image below, I have to acknowledge two things. Firstly, my A-level German from many years ago is very rusty. Secondly, I am not a Muslim, and can therefore understand these things only from an external (and Christian) perspective. Earlier this week, Swiss Air started using the advertisement below in German-speaking areas of Switzerland:

A cross word


Aside from an obscure  reference to clubs in a game of trumps, the words mean something along the lines of “the cross is a strength/ asset”. The latter is emphasised by the sweeping perspective on the image. The tail fin bears, of course, the white cross of the Swiss national flag. However, the description has angered some Muslims in Switzerland, and they have called for the removal of the advert. Interestingly, it is not the cross itself which offends, but the verbal description of it.  As a person with an unashamed fascination for words, this intrigues me. An image, it would seem, has been rendered offensive by the words which describe it.

I would love to hear from German speakers, and especially from Muslims, what the particular offense is here. I suspect that it is perceived as the hijacking of a national symbol as a religious one, and the suggestion of power associated with it. However, I may be entirely wrong. I need some words to help me out…

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