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Switzerland voters reduce ‘burqa ban’ in referendum

Face masks for safety and health reasons, and face coverings at religious places are exempted

Swiss voters on Sunday approved a proposal to ban face coverings, which included both masks and burqas worn by some Muslim women in the country and ski masks and bandanas used by protesters.

This measure will cover the faces of people walking in public places such as restaurants, sports stadiums, public transport or bus street. It faces exceptions at religious sites and for safety or health reasons, such as the face masks people are now wearing to protect against COVID-19 as well as traditional carnival celebrations. The authorities have two years to enact detailed legislation.

The two Swiss cantons, or states, Ticino and St.Gallen, already have similar laws that impose penalties for crimes. The national law would link Switzerland with countries such as Belgium and France that have already implemented similar measures.

The Swiss government strongly opposed the measure, arguing that full-cover covering is a “marginal phenomenon”. It was argued that the ban could harm tourism – most Muslim women wearing such a veil in Switzerland are visitors to the well-heeled Persian Gulf states, which often flock to Swiss lakeside cities.

Experts estimate that out of 8.5 million people in the country, a few dozen Muslim women wear full-face coverings.

Proponents of the proposal, who had come to vote five years after its launch, argued that full-face coverings symbolized the suppression of women, and said that measures were needed to maintain a basic principle that exists in an independent society Be shown Switzerland.

In the end, 51.2% of voters supported the plan. Six of Switzerland’s 26 cantonments had majorities against it – among them the three largest cities in the country, Zurich, Geneva and Basel, and the capital Bern. SRF public television reported that voters in many popular tourist destinations, including Interlaken, Lucerne and Zermatt, rejected it.

The backers included the Nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which is the strongest in the parliament. The committee that launched the proposal is headed by Walter Wobman, a party legislator, and has also introduced a ban on the construction of new minarets approved by voters in 2009.

Before the referendum, a coalition of leftist parties opposing the proposal takes note of the signs that read: “The absurd. useless. Islamophobic. ”

Mr. Wobman told Srf The initiative addressed both “symbolizing a completely different system of values ​​… extremely radical Islam” and protection against “goons”. He said that “it has nothing to do with symbolic politics.”

On Sunday, voters spoke on two other issues. He categorically rejected a proposed voluntary “e-ID” to improve the security of online transactions – an idea that advocated privacy, as issued by private companies – and with Indonesia Free trade agreement approved.

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