Switzerland’s parliament banned full-face coverings, a move believed to target wearers of the burqa, two years after 51% of the population backed such a measure in a national vote.
(Bloomberg) — Switzerland’s parliament banned full-face coverings, a move believed to target wearers of the burqa, two years after 51% of the population backed such a measure in a national vote.
The law, spearheaded by a group close to the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party at the time, introduces a fine of as much as 1000 francs ($1116) for anyone who wears such a veil in public.
While the ban applies to all garments that cover a person’s full face, the campaign particularly focused on religious veils, with some Muslim women choosing to wear the burqa.
The campaign to ban face covering was criticized by Muslim groups at the time of the referendum. Ines El-Shikh, spokeswoman for the Purple Headscarves, a Muslim women’s group, told the AFP news agency that “there are only 30 women in burqas in Switzerland” while Switzerland’s Islamic Central Council had said the vote signalled how anti-Muslim hatred had spread through the country.
Exceptions are in place for wearing coverings at places of worship, to protect one’s health, such as a face mask, or during carnival celebrations.
This is the second measure in the country which appears to target the Muslim community, after Switzerland banned the construction of new minarets in 2009 following a campaign from right-wing parties.
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