The lower house of Switzerland's parliament has voted to pass legislation banning face coverings, including burqas worn by some Muslim women. The National Council approved the measure with a vote of 151-29, following its earlier approval by the upper house. The legislation, championed by the right-wing populist Swiss People's Party, passed despite reservations expressed by centrists and the Greens.
This decision comes in the wake of a national referendum held two years ago in which Swiss voters narrowly endorsed the prohibition of niqabs (which leave slits for the eyes), burqas, ski masks, and bandannas worn by some protesters.
With the lower house vote, Switzerland has now enshrined the ban in federal law and imposed fines of up to 1,000 francs (approximately $1,100) for violators. The law applies to covering the nose, mouth, and eyes in both public spaces and private buildings accessible to the public, though it does make certain exceptions.
It's worth noting that very few women in Switzerland wear full-face coverings like burqas, a garment more commonly associated with Afghanistan. The Swiss cantons of Ticino and St. Gallen already have similar laws in place. This national legislation aligns Switzerland with countries such as Belgium and France, which have enacted comparable measures regarding face coverings.