Switzerland is often referred to in European midst as the ultimate democracy. Rich, capitalist, almost no unemployment, split neatly into 26 cantons which basically govern themselves and are overseen by a federal government, neutral in any world conflict, and, lastly, 100,000 signatures can organize a referendum. No idea is too weird not to be voted on. The Swiss can then decide for themselves which way they want to go.
The latest poll to be put on the table follows the right-wing swing that most European countries seem to be making in 2017, as the Swiss will soon be able to say whether or not they want to ban Burqas on their territory.
Mr Walter Wobmann, a politician of the nationalist Swiss People's Party campaigned for a country-wide ban, and quickly gathered the needed 100,000 signatures. Mr Wobmann claims that a ban on burqas would “maintain public order and respect for the dignity of women. Veils are an attack on integration in a free society. The ban of religiously motivated coverings in public is proportionate and violates neither freedom of religion nor expression. It does not constitute discrimination.”
The nationalist Swiss People's Party (SVP) was also behind a controversial referendum a few years ago that opposed building any further minarets (the towers on mosques) in Switzerland.
Switzerland is a largely Christian country and has less than 5 per cent Muslims in fact (some 350,000 of its 8.3 million inhabitants), but given that neighbouring Austria introduced a similar ban a month ago only, it was only a matter of time. Besides, France and Belgium already have a ban and Switzerland always wants to be seen as a leader, not a follower.
Germany is considering introducing a similar law, which seems highly likely given the recent success of the nationalist AfD. Italy and Spain also regulate religious attire, but are not as strict.
There is already a small region in Switzerland where burqas are banned. In the Swiss-Italian canton of Ticino offenders are fined thousands of euros for non-compliance.