Swiss Government Urges Voters to Reject Niqab Ban

As Swiss voters prepare for March 7 referendum on full face/niqab ban, the government urged people to reject the proposal, saying the move would hurt tourism.

“Very few people in Switzerland wear a full facial covering,” the government said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

“A nationwide ban would undermine the sovereignty of the cantons, damage tourism and be unhelpful for certain groups of women,” it said.

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The government added that women who wear full facial coverings are tourists and only spend a brief time in the country, describing the suggested ban as a bad idea.

The canton of St Gallen in northeastern Switzerland voted in favor of banning the burqa in public in a referendum in September 2018.

Under Switzerland’s system of direct democracy. Therefore, any proposal to change the constitution goes to a popular vote if supporters raise more than 100,000 signatures.

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In 2009 Swiss voters backed a proposal to ban the construction of new minarets.

Two-thirds of Switzerland’s 8.5 million residents identify as Christians. But its Muslim population has risen to 5%, largely because of Balkans Muslim immigrants.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not just a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

As for the face veil, the majority of Muslim scholars believe that a woman is free to cover or show her face or hands.

Scholars, however, believe that it is up to women to decide whether to cover their faces.