Switzerland to hold referendum on banning burqas - govt

Swiss voters will decide whether to ban face-covering garments such as Muslim burqas and niqabs, the country’s government has announced. A referendum on the proposed ban - championed by far-right groups - will take place but is unlikely to be held before next year, AP reported on Friday. The decision comes after advocates gathered over 100,000 signatures on a petition to put the initiative on the ballot under the system of direct democracy, which lets voters decide major policy issues. The executive Federal Council will set a date for the referendum, but it is not expected to take place before 2018. The vote would put Switzerland alongside France, Austria and other European countries in prohibiting face-covering garments. Last year, the Italian-speaking Swiss region of Ticino enacted such a ban.