Switzerland is now amongst the European countries that have voted to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public.

With a narrow majority of 51%, Switzerland has voted to ban Muslim women from wearing the burqa in public places. The referendum took place on March 7, UNILAD reports.

Following the example of other European countries, including Austria, Belgium, and France, the people of Switzerland will be banned from covering their faces in public. While the proposal for the restriction does not explicitly mention the burqa or niqab, it is evidently directed towards the Islamic face veils that Muslim women wear.

The only exceptions to the new rule will be places of worship and “native customs.” According to The Guardian, face masks used for health and safety purposes amid the coronavirus pandemic will also be permitted.

Although the Swiss People’s Party supports the ban, the country’s parliament opposed the referendum proposal.

With the message: “Stop Islamic Radicalism,” the People’s Party has expressed their strong support for the new legislation.

On the contrary, Switzerland’s parliament and the seven-member executive council that constitutes the country’s federal government reportedly opposed the restriction. Muslim groups have also criticized the ban. Ines Al Shikh, a member of Les Foulards Violets, a Muslim feminist collective, stated:

“This is clearly an attack against the Muslim community in Switzerland. What is aimed here is to stigmatize and marginalize Muslims even more.”

What the opposition offers is an initiative whereby people would have to lift their facial coverings when confirming their identity to officials.

The official prohibition will affect approximately 5% of the Swiss population, which is around 390,000 people.

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