Bern (dpa) – After France, Austria and other European countries, Switzerland will in future also ban Muslim women from wearing a Nikab or burqa in public.
In a referendum on Sunday, more than 52 percent of voters voted in favor of the proposal and thus against the government’s recommendation, which was against it. Such bans already exist at the local level in the cantons of St. Gallen and Ticino.
By noon, 19 of the 22 counted cantons had accepted the ban. There are a total of 26 cantons. The ban must now be incorporated into the constitution and will apply on the street, in restaurants and shops. There is only an exception for places of worship.
Officially, there was a ban on hiding the vote. Even protesters are no longer allowed to hide their faces in the future. The association, which pushed through the referendum with a collection of signatures, makes no secret that the initiative was aimed at Muslim veils.
Radical Islam must replace it, Anian Liebrand of the right-wing conservative SVP said on television on Sunday. He is the managing director of the Egerking committee, which has collected the signatures to enforce the vote. This association had similarly enforced in 2009 that no new minarets may be built in Switzerland. “It’s only against the radicals,” said Mike Egger, national councilor for the SVP.
The opponents of the ban accused the association of only wanting to create a vote against Muslims. The ban does not promote equality for women. In a free society there should be no such dress code. Feminists criticized the fact that politics is conducted on the back of women, because they should expect fines in the future.
The proportion of Muslims in Switzerland was 5.3 percent in 2018. The number of women wearing Nikabars is estimated to be about 30. A burqa is a shawl that completely covers women, leaving only a grille window open to see. The robe with a slit over the eyes is called a niqab.
The French sociologist Agnès De Féo has been working on the subject for 15 years. According to her, women in Europe who cover themselves often didn’t convert to Islam until they were teenagers or adults. They are not usually oppressed, but very rash and wanted to protest with their robes against the current fashion and beauty ideal, she told the “NZZ”. In France, the niqab has gained importance as a sign of protest because of the ban there. In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ban on headscarves does not infringe freedom of expression or religion.
In the referendum, the Swiss also clearly rejected a government-planned electronic identity card (e-ID). The project was controversial because private companies would have to issue the ID. A free trade agreement with Indonesia, on the other hand, was narrowly accepted. This lowers the rates for a certain amount of sustainably produced palm oil. Opponents unsuccessfully argued that this would boost palm oil production and thereby destroy more rainforest.