Swiss parliament’s upper house rejects bill to ban burqas

Source: Associated Press

By JAMEY KEATEN

GENEVA (AP) — Switzerland’s upper house of parliament has rejected an initiative championed by a right-wing populist party to ban burqas and niqabs, the face- and body-covering garments worn by some Muslim women, which have become emblematic of cultural tensions in parts of Europe.

The Council of State voted 26-9 with four abstentions Thursday against the measure that passed the Swiss lower house in September by a single vote. The Italian-speaking Ticino region in southern Switzerland enacted a ban on burqas last year.

The issue strikes at the heart of Europe’s struggle to integrate Muslims, and comes amid fears about radical Islam in some corners. Burqas are body-covering garments with screens for the eyes, while niqabs have open slits for the eyes. France and Belgium have enacted similar bans.

Proponents say such face-covering should not be allowed for security reasons, and insist wearing the burqa harms women’s rights.

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