Full face veils are now prohibited in Switzerland, following a vote on Sunday in which a majority of electors opted for a ban on any form of complete face covering in public.
Some 52% of voters agreed to the measure, according to projections by the gfs,bern Institute. The margin of error is roughly one or two points.
The acceptance of the popular initiative came as no surprise. From the start of the campaign, the text shot up in the polls, before sliding downward, but remained ahead.
The text bans anything that totally hides the face in public. It covers both burkas and masks such as those worn by rioters or hooligans.
However, the Egerkingen committee, which proposed the grassroot initiative, has been focusing on the complete veil which, in its words, is a symbol of fundamentalist Islam which, it feels, does not correspond with the values of democracy.
Opponents of the ban, namely the Federal Council, Parliament and the country’s main religious bodies, recalled ceaselessly that the text ran counter to the principle of freedom and stigmatised the country’s Muslim minority.
Full-face veils are already banned in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, and Denmark.
The population appeared to give the thumbs-up to a trade agreement with Indonesia.
The world’s most populous Muslim country is a very promising market, but it was palm oil, which has a dubious ecological reputation, that channelled the debate and spawned a grassroot initiative by members of the opposition.
The initiative, signed in 2018 and approved by parliament in 2019, entails abolishing customs duties from a large part of the goods traded with Indonesia, along with a body of rules governing the exchange of services, intellectual property and investments.
Opponents slam deforestation, human rights abuses, environmental violations, and also criteria used to certify palm oil which, they point out, the agreement contains.
The introduction of an electronic identity approved by the Federal State that would have facilitated many online transactions and made them more secure, looks set to be rejected, according to early projections.