Swiss senate refuses nationwide burqa ban

Swiss senate refuses nationwide burqa ban
Photo: AFP
The upper house of parliament has rejected the idea of a nationwide ban on the Islamic face veil and other face coverings.
The draft bill, which was narrowly passed by the lower house last September, was opposed by the senate after a debate on Thursday, reported news agencies.
The proposal by hardline Swiss People’s Party (SVP) MP Walter Wobmann called for a federal ban on the burqa, niqab and other full face coverings in public, along the same lines as a cantonal ban that came into effect in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino in July last year.
In March Wobmann launched a popular initiative to that effect, which has until September 2017 to gather the required 100,000 signatures to take the issue to a referendum.
On Thursday the senate followed the recommendation of a commission on the subject which advised against implementing a ban nationwide, saying it was not necessary since so few people in Switzerland wear the veil.
Such a ban could hurt tourism to the country, it added.
Speaking during the debate, Socialist Anita Fetz agreed with the commission, saying it wasn’t a widespread issue in Switzerland.
“Even among tourists, cases are rare. I’ve seen perhaps two to three tourists entirely veiled in Basel in my whole life,” she said.
Senator Werner Luginbühl agreed, saying while he saw the veil as a form of discrimination against women, there was no need for a constitutional change to solve a problem that does not exist.
“There are probably more people who hike naked than wear the burqa,” added Andrea Caroni, a senator from Appenzell Ausserrhoden where naked hiking is in fact banned. In pointing that out he was arguing in favour of the cantons regulating such matters that affect them rather than the federal government.
Ticino senator Flippo Lombardi disagreed with the commission’s stance, saying the Ticino ban had not had any negative consequences, such as a reduction in tourists from the Middle East, as was feared. Therefore imposing a nationwide ban would not be problematic.
However the Swiss people are likely to have the final say if the popular initiative goes to a referendum.

5 replies

    • Your comparison to Iran and its strict laws have no relevance to laws in Switzerland, do they?

      If you read the article, you’ll find that there are very few women who do cover their faces, there. Also, if you ask an average niqab covered woman, you’ll probably find that she does this voluntarily and that nobody has forced her into it.

      This especially applies to women who choose to cover up despite being in a western country where the majority of women are underdressed!

      I really do not understand the Western world’s attitude to any kind of covered woman. Where I live in Africa, we have fully covered women and less than half dressed ones, and they are both tolerated – especially in the work place, the covered one will have preference over the uncovered one 🙂

      So, why do you want to dictate to people how they should dress? And assume that when women cover they are oppressed while the one who don’t are really free? Those might have been sold into modern slavery and are equally being forced into the condition you find them in… and therefore NOT REALLY FREE!

      • The majority of western women are undressed, you say?
        You really believe that?
        Thats ridiculous.
        And the covered woman gets preference over the uncovered woman in the workplace?
        That is both discrimination and forcing women to cover.
        Sounds like an uncovered woman is also threatened to be sold into slavery, which is also a way to force submission to cover.
        I think by your words we can conclude you are unfamiliar with what true freedom is yourself!

      • Can you please read what I’ve written properly? I am not implying that the uncovered women might be sold into slavery, but the other way round, i.e. that enslaved women might be FORCED into any kind of clothing, especially prostitution where they are forced into exposing themselves to get customers.

        Also, true freedom is when women can choose to wear what they want without being discriminated against. For now, the women who cover have to go through this experience in the Western world rather than the opposite.

      • Thats because we in the western world know freedom of choice from not having a choice. Like the freedom to question whether Muhammad was really prophet or not. A Muslim doesn’t believe he has that freedom without committing unforgivable blasphemy.
        This distorted view of what freedom is or isn’t starts with what you are told about Muhammad and his claim to being a prophet.

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