Switzerland Approves Ban On Face Coverings In Public : NPR

On a poster in Lausanne it says “Stop extremism!” With a narrow majority of 51.2% on Sunday, the Swiss passed a new ban on face covering in public. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images Hide caption

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Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

On a poster in Lausanne it says “Stop extremism!” The Swiss passed a new ban on face covering in public on Sunday with a narrow majority of 51.2%.

Fabrice Coffrini / AFP via Getty Images

Swiss voters on Sunday approved a proposal to ban face coverings in public. Niqabs and burqas, which are worn by almost no one even among the country’s Muslim population, are banned outside of religious institutions. The new law does not apply to face coverings for health reasons.

Switzerland will join several European countries that have introduced bans on face coverings, including France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.

The new legislation was put to a vote by a popular initiative from the country’s right-wing Egerkingen Committee, the same group that brought minarets banning charges over a decade ago, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reported. In 2017, the group submitted over 100,000 signatures to the government, demanding that the issue be submitted to a national vote.

The Swiss government rejected the nationwide initiative as excessive, arguing that such bans should be passed by individual regions, two of which already have a “burqa ban”.

With 51.2% of the Swiss votes in support of the proposal, the ban was hardly accepted by a majority. Only six of the country’s cantons, similar to states, voted against the proposal, according to the SBC.

One of the biggest supporters of the initiative was the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which welcomed the result of the vote and described the new measure as a “strong symbol in the fight against radical political Islam”.

“The burqa creates a barrier between the person who wears it and the environment and thus prevents integration into society,” said the president of the Swiss People’s Party, Marco Chiesa, in a statement.

Some feminist groups and progressive Muslims According to reports were supporters of the initiative, arguing that full face coverings suppress women.

Other groups felt that the new restriction was anti-Islamic and that women should not be told what to wear.

The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland said the results were “Islamophobic”.

“Today’s decision opens old wounds, expands the principle of legal inequality and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” said the Group wrote.

Researcher found that at most a few dozen Muslim women in Switzerland wear full face covers. About 5% of the 8.6 million inhabitants of Switzerland are Muslims. the BBC reported.

The Swiss authorities now have two years to draft the legislation. according to The Associated Press.


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