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Faculty of Law Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Legal Studies

Update face-veil ban debate in Switzerland

The Political Institutions Committee of the National Council decided to follow the decision of the Commitee of the Council of States, taken in January 2011, to refuse a Cantonal Initiative which would prohibit partial or full veiling of the face on a national level. The decision was taken with 10 votes in favour of the Initiative and 12 against according to the Parliamentary Services. According to the majority, there is no need for action in this area. It is argued that veiling based on religio-cultural reasons does not represent a problem in Switzerland. Furthermore, there is some doubt about the proportionality of such a measure, particularly with regard to the presumedly negative signal effect towards tourists from Islamic countries.
Meanwhile, a Cantonal Popular Initiative was submitted in the canton of Ticino on 19 May 2011 which asks for the prohibition of face veiling on a cantonal level. It will be the first popular vote in Switzerland about this matter.