Second Swiss region votes in favor of ‘burqa ban’
The northeastern region held a referendum on Sunday to decide whether stricter rules on the face veils are necessary, among other issues. Around 36 percent of the region’s half-million population came out to cast their votes, and nearly 67 percent of voters supported the new law, official results show.
St. Gallen, the fifth-most populous Swiss canton, will become the second region in the country to approve such a measure, following the example of the southernmost canton of Ticino. A complete ban on wearing burqas and niqabs in public places came in force in Ticino is 2016, with non-compliance punishable by fines ranging from 100 Swiss francs ($104) to 10,000 ($10,400). The Italian-speaking canton has a population of 350,000, around two percent of whom are Muslim.
Last year, Swiss authorities rejected a popular campaign sponsored by a right-wing party calling for a nationwide ban on face veils, allowing the regions to decide individually on the matter.
However, such a vote may be held next year after the right-wing Swiss People’s Party reportedly gathered the 100,000 signatures required to put any subject to a referendum.
Switzerland is not the first country in Europe to vote on banning full-face veils, which is often said to target Muslims. After France pioneered a ban on full-face covers in 2010, Belgium followed in its footsteps, and similar measures were subsequently introduced by the Netherlands and Denmark.
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