Swiss voters back proposal to ban full-face veils in public places
Voters in Switzerland backed a proposal on Sunday to ban full facial coverings in public places, despite women in Islamic full-face veils being an exceptionally rare sight in Swiss streets.
Official results showed that 51.21 percent of voters, and a majority of federal Switzerland’s cantons, supported the proposal.
Even though the proposal “Yes to a ban on full facial coverings” does not mention the burqa or the niqab — which leaves the eyes uncovered — there is no doubt what the debate concerns.
Campaign posters reading “Stop radical Islam!” and “Stop extremism!”, featuring a woman in a black niqab, have been plastered around Swiss cities.
Rival posters read: “No to an absurd, useless and Islamophobic ‘anti-burqa’ law.”
The ban means that nobody can cover their face completely in public — whether in shops or the open countryside.
There will be exceptions, including for places of worship.
“Besides being useless, this text is racist and sexist,” said Ines El-Shikh, spokeswoman for the Purple Headscarves feminist Muslim women’s group.
She told AFP that the proposed law created the impression of a problem, but “there are only 30 women in burqas in Switzerland.”
A 2019 Federal Statistical Office survey found that 5.5 percent of the Swiss population were Muslims, mostly with roots in the former Yugoslavia.
‘Extreme’ Islam concerns
The full-face veil “is an extreme form of Islam”, said Yes campaign spokesman Jean-Luc Addor, of the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).
He acknowledged that “fortunately” there are not many burqa-wearing women in Switzerland, but stressed that “when a problem exists, we deal with it before it gets out of control”.
The government and parliament opposed a nationwide ban.
They proposed an alternative law that would require people to show their faces to the authorities if necessary for identification, for example at borders…..read more