Switzerland to ban wearing of burqa and niqab in public places, Philip Oltermann, The Guardian, 2021-03-07.
Switzerland will follow France, Belgium and Austria after narrowly voting in a referendum to ban women from wearing the burqa or niqab in public spaces. Just over 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 and restaurants.
Full facial veils will still be allowed to be worn inside places of prayer and for “native customs”, such as carnival. Face coverings worn for health and safety reasons are also exempt from the ban, meaning face masks worn because of the Covid-19 pandemic will not be affected by the new law.
A video on the Swiss government’s website explaining the arguments in favour of a ban proposed that “religious veils like the burqa or the niqab are a symbol of the oppression of women and aren’t suitable to our society”.
The Ticino and St Gallen cantons already have local bans on face coverings. Three other cantons rejected such proposals. Face coverings at protests and sport events are already banned in 15 of Switzerland’s 26 cantons.
The referendum outcome means Switzerland will follow France, which banned wearing a full face veil in public in 2011. Full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public are also in place in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Congratulations to Switzerland! Nevertheless, the narrowness of the majority is reason for concern. The full veil is a flag of political Islam. This ban represent an important victory against the advance of that obscurantist and very dangerous ideology.