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Switzerland Seeks Law To Fine Violators Of ‘Burqa Ban’

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The Switzerland government is looking to fine violators of a national ban on the “burqa” up to 1,000 Swiss francs ($1,005). Thus, the government sent a draft, seeking to implement its burqa ban policy, to Parliament on Wednesday.

The far-right proposal to ban facial coverings publicly was narrowly approved in a binding vote last year after being launched by the same group that organized a 2009 ban on new minarets.

The Cabinet’s proposal to levy fines does not mention Islam specifically, but it is intended to discourage violent street protesters from covering their faces. Some politicians and even the media refer to the proposal as a “burqa ban.” After a lot of discussion on the issue, the government rejected all requests to put it under the criminal code and fine violators up to 10,000 francs ($10,007.28). In a statement, the government said, “The ban on covering faces aims to ensure public safety and order. “Punishment is not the priority.”

The draught also provided many kinds of immunities under the law. These do not include the banning of aircraft, diplomatic premises, or places of worship. The list further contains coverings that are made for health, safety, climate, and reasons related to local customs. Facial coverings are also exempted during artistic performances and advertisements.

Masks considered protective in cases of exercising fundamental rights to expression and assembly, according to the draft, would be exempted only if approved by authorities and ensure public safety.

Those supporting the ban believe the masks symbolize religious extremism and Islamic politics. However, Muslim groups opposed voting and are determined to legally challenge it.

In 2011, France outlawed the wearing of full-face veils in public; similar laws apply in Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria. The majority of Switzerland’s 5% Muslim population traces its origins to Turkey, Bosnia, and Kosovo.

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