A far-right proposal to ban facial coverings in Switzerland received a slender victory in a binding referendum on Sunday instigated by the identical group that organised a 2009 ban on new minarets.

The measure to amend the Swiss structure handed by a 51.2-48.8% margin, provisional official outcomes confirmed.

The proposal below the Swiss system of direct democracy doesn’t point out Islam straight and in addition goals to cease violent road protesters from sporting masks, but native politicians, media and campaigners have dubbed it the burqa ban.

“In Switzerland, our tradition is that you show your face. That is a sign of our basic freedoms,” Walter Wobmann, chairman of the referendum committee and a member of parliament for the Swiss People’s Party, had mentioned earlier than the vote.

He referred to as facial overlaying “a symbol for this extreme, political Islam which has become increasingly prominent in Europe and which has no place in Switzerland”.

The Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland referred to as the vote a darkish day for the group.

“Today’s decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” it mentioned.

It promised authorized challenges to legal guidelines implementing the ban and a fundraising drive to assist girls who’re fined.

The proposal predated the COVID-19 pandemic, which has required adults to put on masks in lots of settings to stop the unfold of an infection.

Two cantons have already got native bans on face coverings.

France banned sporting a full face veil in public in 2011 and Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands and Bulgaria have full or partial bans on sporting face coverings in public.

Practically nobody in Switzerland wears a burqa and solely round 30 girls put on the niqab, the University of Lucerne estimates. Muslims make up 5% of the Swiss inhabitants of 8.6 million folks, most with roots in Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.

The authorities had urged folks to vote towards a ban.

“After the ban on minarets, a majority of Swiss voters has once again backed an initiative that discriminates against a single religious community and needlessly stirs up fears and division,” Amnesty International mentioned.

“The veiling ban is not a measure for women’s liberation, but a dangerous symbolic policy that violates freedom of expression and religion.”

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