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Switzerland voters to decide on burqa ban

[JURIST] The Swiss government said Friday that voters will decide whether to ban the burqa and other full-face coverings after a successful petition by far-right groups, who cited the "dignity of women."

Activists, including the Swiss Peoples Party (SVP) [party website], collected more than the 100,000 signatures required to put the proposal [text, in German] on the national ballot under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, which lets voters decide major policy issues.

Water Wobmann [official website], an SVP politician leading the campaign and known for his anti-immigration stance, claims that the veils violate Swiss values. He stated that the law would also prevent vandals and criminals concealing their identity. The Swiss canton of Ticino has already implemented its own regional burqa ban in July, which imposes fines for wearing a burqa.

If public referendum, which is expected to be rolled out next year, succeeds, Switzerland will join France, Austria and Belgium [JURIST reports] as the only countries to ban the full-face veils. Switzerland is a largely Christian nation, with less than 5 percent identifying as Muslim.

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