Today, Swiss Citizens voted to ban face coverings, targeting approximately 30 women in the country.

Yes, that’s right. A referendum passed prohibiting burkas in Switzerland. It was done under the guise of “protecting women” but, trust me, it has nothing to do with protecting women. Government estimates are that 30 to 100 women in the country wear a burka.

Any law against face coverings when the whole country is under a mask mandate can only be to target the very small Muslim population, most of whom don’t wear Burkas. You’ll notice the ad doesn’t say “protect women’s freedom!” but “stop extremism.”

It was brought to you by the same party that brought you this political ad:

They sure don’t look like they are concerned about women, do they? Anila Noor and Maria Khoshy, who identify themselves as Muslim feminists and refugees, explained what would really help:

As community leaders and organisers, we know the systematic barriers to equality and inclusion faced by refugee women in Switzerland: labour market restrictions, employment discrimination, and even access to opportunities. We face lack of respect or recognition for our educational accomplishments or professional skills, simply because we built our careers in developing nations. We face social ostracisation.

We face limitations on our ability to access education, to get loans to start businesses, and to find affordable childcare for our children so that we can work. We face accusations that we are not “willing to learn the local language” when in fact we work very hard at it, and we have already demonstrated our ability to master several other languages. We often face domestic violence at home and threatening or insulting behaviour on the street. We face stereotypes in the news media that portray us as passive victims of oppression rather than as the courageous human rights defenders that we are. We face the accusation that our values are somehow at odds with those of Europe, when we are the ones who fled our homes to have a shot at justice and freedom here in Europe. We fight for “European values” like freedom of religion, autonomy, and gender equality even more fiercely than do many Europeans, if only because we know what it is like to grow up under oppressive regimes.

I don’t know how hard it would be to be a refugee woman in Switzerland, but I do know that this ban doesn’t help. Giving real help would be ensuring the right of every woman to dress how she wants. Switzerland generally has no problem with full nudity, but heaven forbid you should want to make your own choices about a face covering.

The fact that this referendum passed while the entire country is under a mask mandate just makes it even more obvious that this isn’t about safety or women’s rights. This is about fear of Muslims, sponsored by the party of racism.

I love my adopted country, but today I’m embarrassed by it. At least I have the assurity of knowing that in my canton, Basel-Stadt, the referendum failed by a large margin. It’s good to know that my neighbors believe in freedom of religion.

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3 thoughts on “Swiss Sunday: Burka Verbot

  1. My question on this referendum is based on when this was decided (pre-pandemic mask-wearing days or recently). I don’t think the reasons for the ban have anything to do with downgrading a religious belief but more to do with the more exposed face and body as burkas cover the entire body and face. I don’t think anywhere allows ID photos with burkas, even now with mask-wearing, you need to expose the entire face for facial recognition scanning. Muslim women can still wear headcovers and be modestly covered without the burkas. Required wearing the burkas as part of extreme religious thinking, so that would depend on how many of the few presently living in Switzerland is that extreme, as that country has multiple cultural types of people living there. But Switzerland is also a very progressive society so I would expect that they would expect all residents to follow the same rules of engagement with others in public settings, hence the banning of the burkas in public. What happens behind closed doors is no one’s business.

  2. The Swiss— not so tolerant. My husband and I were in Zurich for a day on a layover. We went to the tourist office to see when a local Catholic Church had Mass that day (we didn’t have great Internet access and thought it would be easier to get the info there). We were told that there were no Catholics in that canton (!), no Catholic Churches and thus no Mass. we protested that we were sure all of that was not true, but this woman was very steadfast in her erroneous opinion. We grabbed their WiFi and found a daily Mass starting in 10 minutes at the University of Zurich.

    Who cares what other people wear? Apparently ardent secularists?

  3. Thank you Evil HR Lady for speaking up. I am glad I now have something I can refer people to that makes my points, and also to know that I am not alone in feeling this way.

    I am saddened. I never would have thought Switzerland.

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