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Should covering one’s face be illegal?

Christians in Switzerland join the debate about religious freedom and security. A ban would affect a minority of Muslim women.

AUTHOR Evangelical Focus BERN 26 SEPTEMBER 2017 11:01 h GMT+1
A woman wearing a niqab. / SEA

Evangelical Christians in Switzerland are actively participating in a social debate about full face coverings.



As many as 106,000 signatures have been already collected to support the initiative “Yes to the ban of full face coverings”.



A ban would mainly have an effect on some radical forms of Islam, which encourage women to cover their face with a Niqab. Demonstrators who cover their face would also be affected.



The EDU (Confederal Democratic Union), a small conservative wing party with a strong Evangelical influence actively supports and promotes the popular legislative initiative,



 



Campaign supported by the EDU to ban full face covering. / EDU

Showing one’s face, the EDU said, is an “important signal of freedom values in Switzerland”.



“In our State, to ban the covering of faces would prevent some crimes from happening and would make sure that no woman is forced to become unrecognisable”.



 



EVP: A BAN PROBABLY NOT THE SOLUTION



Meanwhile, the EVP (Evangelical Popular Party), a centre-left group holding 2 seats in the Swiss Federal Parliament, has expressed the need to find solutions to the issue, as long as the religious freedom of every citizen, including Muslims, is protected.



“We are clear about living together openly in our society, with equal rights and with transparency”, the Secretary General of EVP Domink Währy told Swiss news site Livenet. And “there are understandable reasons why the full covering of faces leads to disapproval and uncertainty”, he said.



But a ban is probably not the right answer “at the moment”, Währy explained. A debate is open about this issue inside the political formation.



 



THE POSITION OF THE SWISS EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE



Meanwhile, another platform representing evangelicals in the country in socio-political debates, the Evangelical Alliance (SEA), has said in a statement that a ban on full face coverings would be “acceptable”.



Nonetheless, if a law is adopted on the issue, “it would mainly affect tourists”, the SEA said, because people using full face coverings currently living in Switzerland are a small minority.



In a document (download here, German), the SEA approaches the issue from eight perspectives: culture, identity, security, gender equality, religious freedom, Islam, federalism and the question of how important the issue really is.



They “hope that this debate happens with the greatest respect towards people and religious freedom”.


 

 


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