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. Muslim groups have criticised the ban.
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.
Supporters of the ban argue that it also intended to stop violent street protesters and football hooligans wearing masks, and that the referendum text does not explicitly mention Islam or the words “niqab” or “burqa”.
Their campaign, however, framed the referendum as a verdict on the role of Islam in public life.
Source: The Guardian