Switzerland voters approve ban on full facial coverings
Swiss voters approved a ban on full facial coverings, including niqabs and burqas, by a razor-thin margin in a highly-contested referendum Sunday, CNN reports.
Why it matters: The proposal, which has been criticized by various Swiss religious organizations, human rights groups and even the federal government, passed with 51.21% of the vote. While it does not mention Islam specifically, it has been referred to by some Swiss media as a "burqa ban," per CNN.
The Swiss Federal Council, which heads the country's government, and the Swiss Parliament rejected the initiative and advised people to vote against it.
- They have put forth a counter-proposal which would require people to remove any face coverings in front of officials for identification.
Where it stands: Facial covering will be banned in all public spaces, with the exception of places of worship and places where wearing them is considered a "local custom." Tourists are not exempt from the rule.
- Face coverings will also be allowed for health and safety reasons.
Of note: Other countries in the EU, such as France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark already have local or partial bands on facial coverings, CNN notes.