Swiss seen backing proposal to ban face coverings in public

BERLIN (HRNW) — Swiss voters appeared on course Sunday to narrowly approve a proposal to ban face coverings, both the niqabs and burqas worn by a few Muslim women in the country and the ski masks and bandannas used by protesters.

The measure would outlaw covering one’s face in public places like restaurants, sports stadiums, public transport or simply walking in the street. There would be exceptions at religious sites and for security or health reasons, such as face masks people are wearing now to protect against COVID-19, as well as for traditional Carnival celebrations. Authorities would have two years to draw up detailed legislation.

The Swiss government opposed the measure and says that people covering their faces is a “marginal” issue. It argued the measure could harm tourism — most Muslim women who wear such veils in Switzerland are visitors from well-heeled Persian Gulf states, who are often drawn to Swiss lakeside cities. And it says that it wouldn’t help the women affected.

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