Swiss outlaws the niqab

RELIGIONS NEWS AGENCY (REDNA) – The Swiss Parliament passed legislation on Wednesday making it illegal to cover one’s face, including wearing a niqab – a Muslim woman’s face veil – with a fine of 1,000 Swiss francs (approximately $1,114).

Anadolu Agency reports the “burqa ban” law was approved by the upper chamber of parliament, known locally as Nationalrat, by a vote of 151 to 29, public broadcaster, SRF, reported.

All requests from parliamentarians for changes in wording, fine levels and exemptions were rejected.

In 2021, the Swiss government held a referendum on the issue, with 51.2 per cent voting in favour of a nationwide ban on wearing face veils in public, and 48.8 per cent voting against it.

The new law makes it illegal to cover one’s face in public and private places accessible to the general public “in such a way that the facial features are not recognisable.”

Violators face a fine of up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,114). However, there are several exceptions to the ban, including religious services, indigenous customs, theatrical performances and veiling for health or climatic reasons.

The new federal law has replaced local laws in 15 Swiss cantons prohibiting hooding. France and Belgium were the first countries in Europe to outlaw the niqab in public places in 2011, followed by Bulgaria in 2016, Austria in 2017 and Denmark in 2018.

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