The Swiss lower parliament has approved a bill to ban women from wearing a burqa in public by a vote of 88 to 87 with 10 abstentions. The commission of representatives will receive the bill, but the members will likely vote against it since the member already “ruled out such a proposal at the beginning of 2016.”

The Ticino region inspired this bill when the local government banned the burqa. Due to the popularity, people organized a committee to collect signatures “to expand the ban across” Switzerland.

Despite that fact, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) has started to collect the 100,000 signatures needed to push the bill to a public referendum. The party have exactly a year to accomplish their goal, but public polls have leaned their way:

Walter Wobmann, a lawmaker for the SVP, said that the goal of the burqa ban was to “maintain public order and respect for the dignity of women.”

Polls suggest that around 60 percent of Swiss voters support a ban on the full-faced veil. However, even if the proposal passed in a public vote, the Swiss government would still need to draft a legal proposal, which would then be subject to parliamentary approval.

Ticino is the only canton to introduce an outright burqa ban so far. The ban came into effect on July 1, after the first draft initiative was passed in the Italian-speaking canton three years earlier. Fines for wearing either a burqa or a niqab (where the face is covered but the eyes remain visible) range from 100 Swiss francs ($100; 92 euros) to 10,000 Swiss francs.

Wobmann has also asked that the country ban the hijab from passport photos since non-Muslim females cannot wear headbands or hats:

But now Swiss MP Walter Wobmann has spoke out and criticised the laws, saying that it is unfair women can wear hijabs while other garments are banned.

He told Swiss newspaper Blick: ‘It is unacceptable that you can wear a hijab in a photo but not a cap.

‘This is not a question of religious freedom but of equal treatment.’


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