Switzerland votes to outlaw face coverings with ‘burqa ban’

ZURICH: A far-right proposal to ban facial coverings in Switzerland won a narrow victory in a referendum on Sunday.

The measure to amend the Constitution passed by a 51.2-48.8 per cent margin, provisional official results showed.

The proposal under the Swiss system of direct democracy does not mention Islam directly and also aims to stop violent street protesters from wearing masks, yet politicians, media and campaigners have dubbed it the "burqa ban".

Muslim groups slammed the vote and promised legal challenges to it. Switzerland is home to 450,000 Muslims or about 5 per cent of the population.

"Today's decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority," the Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland said. - REUTERS