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Current Affairs

Switzerland makes law against face coverings in public

Date: 10 March 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Swiss citizens have backed a referendum that prevents full face coverings in public places. The referendum is binding and has to be implemented.

 

Background

This incident marks a major victory for right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) that had backed such a measure.

 

Details

  • Switzerland works on the system of direct democracy and people can directly vote on issues through referendums at both national and regional levels. 

  • About 51.2% of population supported the ban while and 48.8% opposed the ban in the popular vote. 

  • The vote also goes against the established belief of the government which was opposed to making such measures that will dictate people what should they wear.

  • Any topic can be put to vote for referendum if it gathers 1lakh public signatures. The population of the country is currently 86 lakhs.

  • For any referendum to succeed, it should get a majority from voters across the country along with majority in all 26 regions of the country.

 

Provisions

  • People will not be allowed to cover their face completely in public, including while shopping and dining in restaurants, using public transportation or walking on the streets. 

  • There are exceptions such as places of worship or for health reasons, such as wearing a mask for protection against Covid-19.

  • Although Islam has not been directly mentioned in the vote, supporters have used image of Burqa-clad women as representational image to garner support.

  • Switzerland follows into the footsteps of other European countries such as France, Netherlands and Belgium that have already put such a mechanism in place.

 

Reactions

  • Islamic organisations of the country have criticised the move as ‘Islamophobic’ and have demanded for rollback.

  • While some sections have welcomed the move as removal of oppressive clothing of women others see it as a move to dictate women what to wear in public.

  • Some sections have said that the move is an emphasis on free nature of Swiss society and victory against political Islam.