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Swiss to vote on ‘burqa ban’ plan


Switzerland votes Sunday on whether to ban full facial coverings in public places, despite women in Islamic full-face veils being an exceptionally rare sight in Swiss streets.
Polls indicate a slim majority support the move, in a vote that comes after years of debate following similar bans in other European countries — and in some Muslim-majority states.
The Swiss are voting on the publicly triggered proposal “Yes to a ban on full facial coverings”.
It does not mention the burqa or the niqab — which leaves the eyes uncovered — but there is no doubt what the debate is about.
Campaign posters reading “Stop radical Islam!” and “Stop extremism!”, featuring a woman in a black niqab, have been plastered around Swiss cities.
Rival posters read: “No to an absurd, useless and Islamophobic ‘anti-burqa’ law”.
The ban would mean that nobody could cover their face completely in public — whether in shops or the open countryside.
There would be exceptions, including for places of worship.
“It’s a question of civilization. Free men and women present themselves with uncovered faces,” said Yes campaign spokesman Jean-Luc Addor, of the populist right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP).
“It is an extreme form of Islam,” he told AFP.
“Fortunately, there are not many” burqa-wearing women in Switzerland, he acknowledged, stressing though that “when a problem exists, we deal with it before it gets out of control.”
A 2019 Federal Statistical Office survey found that 5.5 percent of the Swiss population were Muslims, mainly with roots in the former Yugoslavia.
Switzerland has a history of voting against visible signs of its growing Islamic community.
A 2009 vote banned the construction of minaret towers on mosques, sparking anger abroad.

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