Swiss lower house votes to ban burqa in public

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 22:28

Geneva: After France, Netherlands and
Belgium, Switzerland is now on its way to become the fourth
country in Europe to impose a ban on burqa, with lawmakers
today voting for a far-right move to outlaw face veils in
public.

Swiss parliamentarians turned inwards on the sensitive
issue of immigration today by endorsing a bill authored by a
politician of a far-right party, that seeks to ban the wearing
of face coverings in public, including in public transport.

A motion titled "masks off" - discontinuing with burqa or
other facial covering in public mustered majority support of
101 parliamentarians in the lower chamber. It was opposed by 77
members.

However, the Upper chamber is yet to give its green signal
to the draft bill before it comes into force.

As the picturesque, land-locked country goes to national
polls within three weeks, right-wing political groups are
mounting a strong campaign on emotional issues of immigration.

These groups want foreigners to abide by the values of
naturalisation.

SVP party lawmaker Oskar Freysinger, authored the bill to
ban the burqa in public stating "anyone addressing a federal,
cantonal or communal authority exercising his or her
functions, to present themselves with faces uncovered".

"At a time when insecurity is growing in our streets, more
and more people are hiding their faces behind a balaclava, a
mask or a burqa," he said.

"This makes it impossible to identify these people, a fact
that is particularly troublesome in case of violence or
identity checks," Freysinger claimed.

Besides, attempts are on to tighten the immigration laws,
including asylum.

Switzerland invited political asylum-seekers with open
hands but Swiss nationals are growing restive at the flow of
new applicants from North Africa following the "Arab spring".

"We pay the price for the failures of the missed
integration policy of the last years today", Federal
Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga said about the problems with
immigration.

Following France, which is the first European country to
impose the ban on burqa in public places, other countries like
Belgium and the Netherlands have followed in taking tough
measures against burqa.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 22:28

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