More than 60% of voters will vote yes, or plan to do so, in the next referendum, according to polls.
A clear majority of Swiss voters are in favor of introducing a nationwide ban on the wearing of full masks such as burqas and niqabs in public spaces, a poll found on Friday.
According to the Tamedia poll of 15,000 eligible voters, 63% of those polled said they would vote yes or plan to vote yes in an upcoming referendum on the so-called “burqa ban,” the newspaper reported. Tages Anzeiger.
The Swiss are ready to vote on whether they want to ban full face coverings in public on March 7, when they will also vote on a range of other issues under the country’s direct democratic system.
The text of the proposed ban does not explicitly mention Muslim veils, stating only that “no one should cover their face in public, nor in areas accessible to the public or in areas where services are normally accessible to all”.
But the proposal, which the Swiss government opposed, is widely seen as targeting niqabs, burqas and other face-covering veils worn by some Muslim women.
The initiative proposes some exceptions to the ban, including in “places of worship” and for “health reasons”.
The group behind the proposal – the “Egerkinger Komitee” – includes members of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP). Some left-wing politicians have also joined the campaign in the name of protecting women’s rights.
But the Swiss government has warned of a national constitutional ban, saying this week that such a move was a bad idea. Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter pointed out that women wearing full veils are rarely seen in Switzerland.
She also said that most of the women seen in the country wearing such veils are tourists.
Keller-Sutter insisted the issue should be left to the 26 Swiss cantons.
Two cantons, Ticino and St. Gallen, have already introduced such bans, while three other cantons, Zurich, Solothurn and Glarus, have refused to do so in recent years.
The government and parliament are backing a counter-proposal that would require people to reveal their faces to authorities for identification purposes, for example at borders or on public transport.
Fines of up to 10,000 Swiss francs ($ 11,300) could be imposed on anyone who refuses, according to the counter-proposal, which will take effect if the proposal to ban full face masks is rejected.
The “Egerkinger Komitee” was also behind Switzerland’s 2009 decision to ban the construction of new minarets, which was approved by nearly 60% of voters.
Supporters of the 2009 proposal saw minarets as foreign to Swiss traditions and values.
Muslims make up only about 5% of Switzerland’s 8.6 million inhabitants, according to official statistics.