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Swiss to vote on banning face veils in referendum criticized as Islamophobic

Switzerland will hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to ban face veils in public

3/3/2021 11:15:00 PM

Switzerland will hold a referendum on Sunday to decide whether to ban face veils in public

'Stop Extremism!' urges a red billboard in a quiet village outside Zurich above an image of a scowling woman wearing a black headscarf and face veil.

John Revill3 Min ReadZURICH (Reuters) - “Stop Extremism!” urges a red billboard in a quiet village outside Zurich above an image of a scowling woman wearing a black headscarf and face veil.The billboard is part of a campaign by the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to ban face coverings in public and which will be voted on in a binding national referendum on Sunday. Opinion polls suggest most Swiss will back it and the ban will become law.

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“In Switzerland our tradition is that you show your face. That is a sign of our basic freedoms,” said Walter Wobmann, an SVP member of parliament and chairman of the referendum committee.The proposal predates the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen all adults forced to don masks in many settings to prevent the spread of infection. It gathered the necessary support to trigger a referendum in 2017.

It does not mention Islam directly, and also aims to stop violent street protesters and football hooligans wearing masks. Still, local politicians, media and campaigners have dubbed it the burqa ban.The proposal compounds Switzerland’s tense relationship with Islam after citizens voted to ban building any new minarets in 2009. Two cantons already have local bans on face coverings.

Wobmann said the vote was not against Islam itself, but added, “the facial covering is a symbol for this extreme, political Islam which has become increasingly prominent in Europe and which has no place in Switzerland.”Slideshow( 5 images )France banned wearing a full face veil in public in 2011 and Denmark, Austria the Netherlands and Bulgaria have full or partial bans on wearing face coverings in public.

No one in Switzerland wears a burqa and only around 30 women wear the niqab, the University of Lucerne estimates. Muslims make up 5.2% of the Swiss population of 8.6 million people, with most having their roots in Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.Swiss Muslims have said right-wing parties were using the vote to rally their supporters and demonise them and others have warned a ban could stoke wider divisions.

“The niqab is a blank sheet which allows people to project their fears onto it,” said Andreas Tunger-Zanetti, manager of Lucerne University’s Centre for Research on Religion.“But ... you are very unlikely to meet someone on a Swiss street wearing one.”

He said a ban risked cementing Switzerland’s image as anti-Islamic and could create resentment amongst some Muslims.Rifa’at Lenzin, 67, a Swiss Muslim woman, said she was totally against the ban, which was tackling a problem which didn’t exist, in a country where Muslims were well integrated.

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“Changing the constitution to tell people what they can and cannot wear is a very bad idea.. This is Switzerland, not Saudi Arabia.”“We are Muslims but we are Swiss citizens who have grown up here too,” Lenzin said. “This vote is simply racist and Islamophobic.”

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Alexandra Hudson Read more: Reuters Top News »

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They dont have the balls to actually do this Where is freedom? It's a personal choice whether to wear face veils or not. Why those China haters don’t call this culture genocide? I think leaving women to make their own decisions is the best way forward. Shouldn't Switzerland be considering a referendum to enforce face veils in public?🙄

Well done Good! I hope they will ban it! I like the way Muslim men cry about the rights to freedom of their oppression whereas they treat women back in their own countries with fewer respect than they have for goats DoubleStandards ishagshafeeg Fairly predictable as is the outrage Good, ban the whole black robes, that's not European culture, y & how did Europe start kneeling to these fanatics & extremists

Ban it looks scary I'm glad that they banned face veils. I hope the USA follows. But I don't see it happening with President Biden starting the action of a ban. FRANCE : it is time to use simple words: the president and his ministers are traitors to the nation and genocidal tyrants. Say it in unison. It will be an honest, fair, clear, strong and hopeful message because it will finally really mobilize.

That's one of the reasons why the Swiss don't want to belong to the politically correct EU, because they have the REAL freedom of speech and can vote about ANY question. You rock Switzerland 💪🇨🇭 What if Indonesia, 99% of the population are Muslims, voted for the imposition of the veil. Will the Westerners say it is the choice of the majority and we respect it, or will we hear the song of freedoms and protection of minorities?

Banning the niqab in the West is permissible and beautiful. As for imposing it in Muslim countries, it is ugly and against freedoms Anyone can hide in a face veil,including men with bombs and guns. For safety,the veil needs to go. MarkUrban01 Masks too? Difference? Please ban it in all countries except their own Islam controlled. This doesn’t belong on the streets of democratic and free countries. They can were it at home but not in public

when I was in Zurich and in Geneva I did not see a single woman in a veil. why all this is necessary ? What’s the point? But masks are OK? What's the difference between a face mask and a veil? NOTHING!! The problem lies in your brains. DoubleStandards 'values of civilization' ... ? The whole world is restricted since 2020, so when is a mask illegal, a veil of cloth or sunglasses? Excited to learn about legal arguments on that matter ...

Ffs leave it alone HolyMidweekService 이 땅에 엘리야가 왔습니다 여러분 메시아의 길을 준비하십시오! repent! stop! sin! prepare the way! Messiah is comming! HolyMidweekService Seems like pretty clear targeted infringement on religious rights, verging on racism in turn. outdone yourselves with the timing..