28 September 2015

After toppling minarets, Swiss politician takes aim at face veils

A right-wing politician who brought about the demise of minaret construction in Switzerland is now trying to get voters to ban face veils, echoing an earlier move in neighbouring France.

Walter Wobmann and his allies will on Tuesday launch their "yes to the veil ban" initiative, a measure they say is to preserve Swiss culture and quell a rising tide of radical Islam.

If they get 100,000 signatures, the measure will come up for a popular referendum under the Swiss system of direct democracy.

"In our culture, you don't cover your face, you show it. That's our culture, that's our society," he said. "Veiling is a symbol of radical Islam, which we don't want here," the Swiss People's Party member of parliament from Solothurn said.

Michael Sorg, spokesman for the Social Democrats, said the initiative was unnecessary and harmful to Switzerland's image.

He said hardly anyone living in the wealthy Alpine republic of 8.2 million people wears the face-covering niqab or burka, so the law would practically affect only about 5,000 tourists. About five percent of Swiss residents are Muslim. [Reuters] Read more