Swiss parliamentarians narrowly voted on Friday against a ban on wearing the Muslim burqa and other face coverings in public places, including public transport. The lower house of the Swiss parliament rejected the motion pushed by the canton of Aargau in a vote of 93 to 87.
Representing the majority, Hugues Hiltpold of the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland insisted that the burqa was not a problem in the country. “The wearing of these kinds of garments for religious reasons does not pose real problems in daily life, since the practice is not very common in the Swiss Muslim community,” he told the National Council.
He added that maintaining a ban would be an excessive measure which could impact negatively on the opinions of Muslim tourists visiting the country.
When it came to face coverings at demonstrations, the parliamentarians, meanwhile, said they did not want a national ban but would leave regulation up to each canton.
Many of the lawmakers of the minority opinion, meanwhile, argued in vain that a ban on face covering clothing would help promote gender equality.
A year ago, the same chamber of parliament had voted in favour of a similar ban entitled “Masks off!” put forward by the Swiss far-right SVP party. However, that vote was overturned by the upper house earlier this year.