Swiss voters on Sunday approved a ban on the public wearing of certain face coverings, including burqas and niqabs, making it the latest European country to pass such restrictions. Denmark, Austria, Belgium and France are among the countries that have enacted similar laws in recent years. In 2017, a Pew Research Center survey found that most Western Europeans favor some restrictions on Muslim women’s religious clothing. In Switzerland at the time, 79% of non-Muslims said that Muslim women who live in their country should be subject to at least some restrictions, including 56% who said Muslim women should be allowed to wear religious clothing as long as it does not cover their face.
In addition, a Pew Research Center analysis of religious restrictions in 198 countries found that in 2018, women in 61 countries faced government regulations on religious head coverings. Of the five regions in the study, Europe had the most countries where women’s headdress was regulated by authorities, with instances in 21 of 45 countries. In some other parts of the world, rather than banning certain types of religious dress, some countries require them. In Iran, for example, the government requires all women to adhere to “Islamic dress” standards in public, including covering their hair and bodies in loose clothing.