Switzerland has voted narrowly to ban full-face clothing, including niqabs and burqas, in most public spaces.
CNN reports that the controversial referendum passed with 52.21 percent of the vote. Prohibits full-face covers in publicly accessible places, including streets, public offices, public transportation, restaurants, and shops.
Exceptions will be made for places of worship, holy places, and for health and safety reasons. However, no exceptions will be made for tourists.
The referendum has been criticized by religious groups, human rights groups and the federal government, CNN reports. The Swiss Federal Council, the Swiss federal government and the Swiss Parliament advised voters not to support the referendum.
Critics also argue that because almost no one in Switzerland wears a burqa and the number of people who wear niqab is dozens at most, the proposal is essentially useless.
The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party and, although it does not mention Islam, it has been referred to as a “burqa ban” in Swiss media, according to CNN.
Amnesty International spoke out against the voting results, saying in a statement that “Swiss voters once again approved an initiative that discriminates against a particular religious community, unnecessarily fueling division and fear.”
Public burqa bans have been passed in several European countries, including France, Germany, and the Netherlands. CNN notes that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has said the measures violate the human rights of Muslim women and could result in “confining them to their homes.”