Swiss region overwhelmingly votes for ‘burqa ban’

A second Swiss canton will introduce a regional “burqa ban”, after voters in St. Gallen on Sunday emphatically backed prohibiting all face-covering garments in public spaces.

At the same time, voters across Switzerland resoundingly rejected initiatives aimed at boosting local farming and promoting more ethical and environmental standards in food production, amid fears of cost hikes and reduced consumer choice.

In the northeastern canton of St. Gallen, nearly 67 percent of voters came out in favour of introducing the implicit “burqa ban”, according to official results, which showed turnout was 36 percent.

That paves the way for the canton to follow the example of the southern region of Ticino, where a law was introduced two years ago that appeared to be aimed at burqas and other Muslim veils.

Three other cantons — Zurich, Solothurn and Glarus — have rejected introducing such bans in recent years.

A text stipulating that “any person who renders themselves unrecognisable by covering their face in a public space, and thus endangers public security or social and religious peace will be fined” was adopted by lawmakers in St. Gallen late last year. [AFP] Read more

Swiss Canton Backs Ban on Public Face-Covering in Referendum

St. Gallen became the second Swiss canton forbidding covering one’s face in public, a rule that includes a ban of face veils worn for religious reasons, ahead of a national vote on the issue set to take place next year.

Sixty-seven percent of the electorate in the German-speaking canton supported a law allowing police to fine anyone covering their face in public. The rule will apply to Muslim women covering their face on religious grounds and anyone “threatening public safety or the religious and societal peace,” including demonstrators. Voter turnout was 36 percent, according to the cantonal government.

Proponents of a nationwide ban on face-hiding clothing submitted the 100,000 signatures needed to trigger a national vote a year ago. The government opposes the initiative, saying individual cantons maintain authority on the matter. While the exact date for the national plebiscite hasn’t been set yet, the vote will probably take place next year. [Bloomberg] Read more