Swiss voters support ban on Islamic face veils
PRETORIA - Switzerland plans to follow several European countries in banning Muslim women from wearing a burka or niqab – a veil that covers the whole face except for the eyes – in public spaces, the Guardian UK reported on Sunday.
The publication said the proposal was narrowly approved after 51% of Swiss voters cast their ballots in favour of the initiative to ban people from covering their face completely on the street, in shops, restaurants and public transport.
The covering of faces will be allowed in places of worship as well as for traditional carnival celebrations.
There is also an exception in the wearing of face masks for security or health reasons such as Covid-19.
Al Jazeera said the ban on full facial coverings did not mention the burka or the niqab; however local politicians, media and campaigners dubbed it the “burka ban”.
Muslim groups condemned the vote and said they would challenge it and promised a fund-raising drive to help women who are fined, the broadcaster said.
“Today’s decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” the Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland was quoted as saying.
“Anchoring dress codes in the constitution is not a liberation struggle for women but a step back into the past,” the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Switzerland was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, a video on the Swiss government’s website supported arguments in favour of the ban, saying veils like the the niqab are a symbol of the oppression of women and are not suitable to their society.
Switzerland has followed in the footsteps of France, Belgium, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria to ban full or partial face coverings in public spaces.
– African News Agency