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Did Switzerland ban the wearing of Burqas?

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No.

Switzerland did not ban the wearing of the burqa. However, according to The Independent, there will be a vote among the citizens of Switzerland to decide whether or not to do so. This propaganda was concluded due to far-right groups outlawing the burqa, stating that it undermines the "dignity of women". Many countries within the European Union and outside of Europe have already banned the wearing of the burqa. The reason Switzerland's idea on banning the burqa has been re-occurring in the news is because they are a neutral country, and do not discriminate against other religions, countries, cultures, etc. So, the fact that Switzerland is having a nationwide vote on the "issue" is a big ordeal.

Origin and Prevalence

The origins of the burqa ban in Switzerland came up when the Swiss People's Party MP Walter Wobmann spoke for the party and called for the ban. Many people involved in the case see the burqa as discrimination against women. The situation caused a lot of media attention on the decision. The reason Switzerland has been in the news more often than other countries about the banning of the burqa is because it is widely known that they are a neutral country. Switzerland normally does not follow other countries' policies and laws, but are thinking about this issue due to some citizens being offended by it. One of the sources we found specifically stating that Switzerland has already enacted the ban was from The Telegraph and it was an article discussing whether Australia should join the burqa ban. Switzerland was on this list because a small region of Switzerland does have a burqa ban. The article has an anti-ban tone to it and it seems they added Switzerland to their list to point fingers at those who have enacted this ban.

Although Switzerland is a 'neutral country,' it has discriminated against other religions in the past as well. For example, the Swiss website, Swissinfo.ch, mentions that the ritualistic slaughter of animals has been banned since 1893, which clearly affects Muslims and Jews. Two other examples mentioned in the same article, are that Catholics and Protestants had to fight for many years to get their religions recognized, and that the Jesuit Order was completely banned in the 19th century, and the ban was only lifted in 1973 after a national vote. Adrian Vatter, a professor of political science at a Swiss University, seems to have an explanation for the suffering of religious minorities in Switzerland; the article states, 'Vatter believes religious minorities have a 'hard time' in the Swiss direct democracy system, arguing they suffer more than other minorities like linguistic groups or disabled people who manage to make themselves heard relatively well during votes. But at the true bottom of the pecking order, says Vatter, are immigrants. 'Because 90% of Muslims in Switzerland are foreigners, the impact is cumulative." With these examples, this article seems to give the impression that the only reason the burqa ban is getting so much international attention is because discrimination of Muslims is happening worldwide, and now even in a supposedly 'neutral country.'

Issues and Analysis

According to a report by The Guardian, for more than a decade many places in Europe have implemented some form of a "ban" on the burqa. Following a 2003 ruling in Germany the burka became a central topic of debate that has continued and found its way into other European countries. Initially the debate was concerned about religious symbols in public spaces like schools, but it was in the year 2010 that concerns came about for wearing the burqa in public (following a committee meeting in Belgium). Since 2010 the burqa has served as a highly controversial topic throughout the world and specifically throughout Europe due to security concerns it poses. Switzerland is not excluded from these events.

According to The Independent, Switzerland moved closer to a vote in 2016 when the right wing party called the Swiss People's Party got a draft bill approved by just one vote. The leader of the Swiss People's Party, Walter Wobmann lead the campaign for the banning by stating that this law would "maintain order and that it was unacceptable for women to wear veils" Wobmann came out and said that veils violate Swiss values. Since then, Switzerland hasn't implemented a full ban. However, they are slowly moving towards it as seen in the swiss canton of Ticino. In July this canton began to enforce fines for people who were wearing the burqa. They are currently still debating the issue and a vote will be held among the citizens of Switzerland on whether or not to make it a national ban.

Informational Sources:

  1. http://www.loc.gov/law/foreign-news/article/switzerland-referendum-on-burqa-and-niqab-ban-will-go-to-a-vote/
  2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/switzerland-burqa-referendum-vote-ban-muslim-veils-far-right-petition-a8001591.html
  3. https://twitter.com/hashtag/burqaban?lang=en
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/burka-bans-the-countries-where-muslim-women-cant-wear-veils/
  5. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/counter-proposal_government-rejects-swiss--burka-ban--initiative/43770432
  6. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/switzerland-burqa-ban-swiss-parliament-national-council-draft-law-vote-latest-muslim-veils-walter-a7334631.html
  7. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/muslims-fined-8000-wearing-burkas-niqab-switzerland-ticino-islamic-dress-a7124586.html
  8. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/866429/Switzerland-burka-ban-referendum
  9. https://www.thelocal.ch/20170913/switzerland-moves-step-closer-to-voting-on-nationwide-burqa-ban
  10. https://www.encyclopedia.com/sports-and-everyday-life/fashion-and-clothing/clothing-jewelry-and-personal-adornment/burka
  11. https://people.howstuffworks.com/veil3.htm
  12. https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/652842/Burka-Niqab-Islamic-Face-veil-Ban-UK-Fine-France-Belgium-Netherlands-Europe-Muslim-dress
  13. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/14/headscarves-and-muslim-veil-ban-debate-timeline
  14. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/religious-minorities_is-the-swiss-burka-ban-a-tyranny-of-the-majority/43116776
  15. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/counter-proposal_government-rejects-swiss--burka-ban--initiative/43770432


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