The Swiss Vote Against Face Concealment

Source: FSSPX News

A federal popular initiative was put to the vote on Sunday, March 7, 2021, to ban face concealment in public space. It managed to pass with the double majority required.

The group behind the project was the same one who launched the initiative to ban the construction of minarets in 2009, which won a comfortable majority. This rejection caused amazement among many Swiss politicians who did not expect such a result.

For those who are not familiar with Swiss law, it should be remembered that Swiss citizens can demand a vote - according to the Swiss expression - to effect a modification of the Constitution.

To get this vote, the initiative must be backed by 100,000 signatures. And for the initiative to succeed, the following two conditions are necessary: ​​that it obtains an absolute majority of votes, and that it is accepted in a majority of cantons.

The votes are in fact counted in each of the 23 cantons. (To be precise, 3 cantons are subdivided into two, each half having only half a vote). This means that the absolute majority must be reached in at least 12 cantons. This clause balances the relationship between more populated and less populated cantons.

In terms of votes, the “yes” obtained 51.2%, and it was in the majority in 16 cantons and 4 semi-cantons.

The Constitution therefore now prohibits face concealment “in public spaces, places accessible to the public or in which services are provided which are ordinarily accessible to everyone; the ban does not apply in places of worship.”

The law also specifies that “no one can force a person to conceal his face because of his sex.”

Finally, the law provides for exceptions justified by health or safety reasons, by climatic reasons, or by local customs.

The text, of which the applicants’ intention was to target the niqab or burqa, creates a ban on any form of concealment, which includes hoods used by thugs. It would be interesting to know whether the obligation to mask oneself linked to the pandemic had something to do with the “yes” victory...

With the exception of the Central Democratic Union - the most right-wing of Switzerland's political parties - all parties opposed a burqa ban, as did national churches and several NGOs. But the Swiss beat the odds and voted against the government's advice, as in 2009, for the anti-minaret initiative.