Switzerland’s vote to ban full face coverings is “needlessly fueling division and fear,” Amnesty International has said, urging authorities to instead focus on measures that genuinely protect women.
“After the vote to ban minarets, Swiss voters have once again approved an initiative that discriminates against one religious community in particular,” said Cyriele Huguenot, head of women’s rights at Amnesty International Switzerland.
“The ban on the full face veil cannot be viewed as a measure that liberates women. On the contrary, it is a dangerous and symbolic policy that violates the rights to freedom of expression and religion.”
Swiss voters narrowly decided to implement a ban on full face coverings on Sunday, with 51.2 percent in favor and 48.8 percent against.
“We call on the elected politicians and government to unequivocally support the fundamental rights of the country’s religious minorities and to commit to peaceful coexistence,” Huguenot said.
“The authorities must take action to ensure that the ban on the full veil does not marginalize the women in question or exclude them from the public space,” she added.
“The authorities must now strengthen measures to protect women who are suffering real violence and discrimination in Switzerland, regardless of their religion and origin.”
The Swiss ban follows similar initiatives in France and Denmark, both of which have banned full face coverings in initiatives widely seen as being aimed at Muslim women.