BurqasFlash 90

Swiss voters on Sunday narrowly backed a ban on full face coverings in public places, AFP reports.

Official results showed that 51.21 percent of voters, and a majority of federal Switzerland's cantons, supported the proposal.

Some 1,426,992 voters were in favor of the ban, while 1,359,621 were against, on a 50.8 percent turnout.

The vote on the “burqa ban” came after years of debate in Switzerland following similar bans in other European countries.

Even though the proposal "Yes to a ban on full facial coverings" did not mention the burqa or the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered, there was no doubt as to what the debate was about and the vote was criticized as being anti-Muslim.

The ban would mean that nobody could cover their face completely in public, whether in shops or the open countryside. There would be exceptions, including for places of worship, or for health and safety reasons.

France was the first European country to impose such a ban, having introduced a ban on women wearing the burqa in 2010.

A parliamentary committee in Belgium later voted to ban the burqa as well. Italy has drafted a similar law.

In 2018, Denmark approved a ban on garments that cover the face, including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa.

In 2019, Austria introduced a law which banned the headscarf in primary schools. However, Austria's constitutional court struck down the law this past December.