Exactly on the occasion of This applies to both the Muslim veil and the balaclavas of football fans. Many described the referendum as a manifestation of “Islamophobia.”

A nationwide referendum was initiated by politicians from the far-right Swiss People’s Party (SVP), demanding an islamophobic move to ban wearing face-covering clothing in public, and it will be voted on in a mandatory referendum on Sunday, March 7.

Opinion polls show that a majority of Swiss will support the (islamophobic) referendum and the ban will become law, Reuters reported. However, as noted by Deutsche Welle, social polls do not yet give unambiguous predictions about how the referendum will end. According to the results, which are cited by Swiss radio, 49 percent of the referendum participants will vote against the ban on the niqab, the clothing that hides the face, while 47 percent will support it, and 4 percent of respondents found it difficult to answer.

“In Switzerland, our tradition is to show our face. It is a symbol of our fundamental freedoms,” says Walter Wobmann, Member of Parliament and Chairman of the Referendum Commission.

The proposal to ban face-covering clothing dates back to before the COVID-19 pandemic when all adults were forced to wear masks in many places to prevent the spread of infection. This proposal received the necessary support for a referendum in 2017.

Although the prohibition initiative does not explicitly mention Islam and also states the goal of stopping aggressive street protesters and masked football hooligans, many politicians, media, and activists have considered it an islamophobic action to ban the wearing of the burqa.

The proposal exacerbates Switzerland’s tensions with Islam after the citizens of the Alpine confederation voted to ban the construction of any new minarets in 2009, Reuters notes.

And in two Swiss cantons – Ticino and St. Gallen – there is already a ban on wearing clothes that cover the face.

According to Walter Wobmann, the vote is not directed against Islam, but added: “The hiding of the face is a symbol of this extreme political Islam, which is becoming more visible in Europe and has no place in Switzerland.”

As Walter Wobmann said in an interview with Deutsche Welle, the initiative to amend the constitution is aimed at giving women freedom: “There is no place for suppressing a woman, for devaluing her personality in our society, which is why we came up with such an initiative.”

His proposal to ban Muslim women’s clothing that covers the face has garnered over 100,000 signatures, making it possible to hold a referendum on the issue.

In 2011, the wearing of face-covering clothing in public was banned in France, while in Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria, the wearing of the veil in public was completely or partially prohibited.

According to the University of Lucerne, no one in Switzerland wears a burqa, and only about 30 (!) Women wear a niqab. Muslims make up 5.2% of the Swiss population of 8.6 million, most of which have roots in Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Swiss Muslims argued that right-wing parties used the vote to rally their supporters and demonize them, while others warned that the ban could spark wider divisions. Moreover, the women’s council of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Switzerland, Islamic associations and some feminist politicians believe that the ban on wearing the niqab will jeopardize religious freedom in Switzerland, Deutsche Welle notes.

© The Eastern Herald
No oligarch or politician dictates to us how to write about any subject. We need your support. Please contribute whatever you can afford. Click here to make your donation.
Follow us on: Eastern Herald on Google News
News Room
The Eastern Herald’s Editorial Board is responsible for the stories published under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on easternherald.com.