Switzerland’s Banning of The Face Veil During a Deadly Pandemic?

Following the steps of multiple European countries such as France, Denmark, and Austria, the people of Switzerland have expressed their dislike of the Islamic face veil, also known as the niqab and burqa, thereby forbidding the wearing of it in places that are not of worship. This islamophobic act comes to no surprise being that most of the 51.2 percent of those whose votes approved the ban, consisted of those who also support the Swiss People Party (S.V.P.). The S.V.P., which proposed the ban to begin with, was campaigning with their slogan “stop extremism.”

The islamophobic proposal made by the right-winged party is seen as a way to “stop radical Islam” from spreading. However, this overarching argument is debunked after researchers have concluded that there are only 30 women who wear an Islamic face veil in Switzerland, and the majority of those women were born in Switzerland and raised within its culture. As for those who do not wear the face veil, out of the 8.6 million people who reside in Switzerland, only 5 percent of those people are Muslim. When comparing the 5 percent of Muslims to the 93.9 percent who are not Muslim, the fear of spreading Radical Islam becomes illogical and ignorant.

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Evidently, the fear of radical Islam spreading is due to the lack of knowledge. The burqa, Islamic clothing that covers women from head to toe, in no way symbolizes terrorism or extremism. Like the hijab, the burqa is a symbolization of modesty. Some Muslim women choose to be modest by wearing loose fitted clothes, by covering their hair, and or by covering their entire body, including their face.

This is not the first time the people of Switzerland have showcased their ignorance proudly. In 2009, citizens of Switzerland voted to prohibit the building of minarets. Of course, this was encouraged by the populist right-winged S.V.P., in order to prevent Islamization. According to Martin Baltisser, the S.V.P.'s General Secretary, the ban of minarets will prevent the symbolization of Islamic power. Yet, the 150 evangelical churches stand tall on the land of Switzerland, with the proud cross on top of its minarets, whose church bells sing into night sky is a symbol of religious freedom.

Islamophobia has become a trend in European countries, and sadly the people of Switzerland have decided to jump onto the bandwagon. The bans that have been implemented have everything to do with racism and Islamophobia, and nothing to do with the country's safety. If we continue to allow our rights and freedoms to be taken away, we will soon fall into the hands of the oppressors. As women, we must protect the rights our grandmothers fought hard for. We cannot allow history to repeat itself. No man should be given the power, such as the men in the S.V.P. were given, to tell a woman what she can and cannot not cover her body with. This is not an issue that only harms Muslims. This is an issue that harms every single woman who has fought against laws that were made to oppress us, this ban being one of them.