Switzerland Votes to Ban Burkas, Niqabs in Public


Switzerland narrowly voted to ban face coverings in public, including burkas and niqabs worn by Muslim women.

Several groups including the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) brought up the measure and it passed 51.2% to 48.8% on Sunday.

A leading Islamic group condemned the vote to ban burkas and said it’s “a dark day” for Muslims.

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“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 said in a statement, adding that it would challenge the decision in court.

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CNN reported:

Swiss voters have approved a ban on full facial coverings including niqab and burqa in nearly all public places in a closely contested referendum on Sunday.

The result means facial covering will be banned in all publicly accessible places, including on the streets, in public offices, on public transport, in restaurants, shops and in the countryside.

The only exceptions include places of worship and other sacred sites. Face coverings will also be allowed if worn for health and safety reasons, because of the weather and in situations where it is considered a “local custom” to do so, such as at carnivals, according to the text of the proposal published by the Swiss federal government.

Switzerland outlawed the construction of minarets more than a decade ago.

France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have all banned niqabs and burkas in public settings.

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