Switzerland votes to ban most full-face coverings in public places

Switzerland has narrowly voted to ban full-face coverings, including niqabs and burqas, from most public spaces.

CNN reported that the controversial referendum passed with 52.21 percent of the vote. It bans full-face coverings from publicly accessible places including streets, public offices, public transport, restaurants and shops.

Exceptions will be made for places of worship, sacred sites, and health and safety reasons. However, exceptions will not be made for tourists.

The referendum has been criticized by religious groups, human rights groups and the federal government, CNN reported. The Swiss Federal Council, Switzerland’s federal government, and the Swiss parliament both advised voters against supporting the referendum.

Critics also contend that because almost no one in Switzerland wears a burqa and the number of people who wear niqabs is in the low dozens at most, the proposal is essentially pointless.

The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, and although it does not mention Islam, it has been referred to as a “burqa ban” in Swiss media, according to CNN.

Amnesty International spoke out against the results of the vote, saying in a statement, “Swiss voters have once again approved an initiative that discriminates against one religious community in particular, needlessly fueling division and fear.”

Public burqa bans have been passed in multiple European countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands. CNN notes that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has said the measures violate the human rights of Muslim women and could result in “confining them to their homes.”

Tags Arab culture Burqa French ban on face covering Islamic dress in Europe Modesty in Islam Niqāb Switzerland Switzerland

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