Six women have been fined since a so-called burka ban went into effect in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino last summer.
Ticino’s security authorities released the figures on Monday, noting that in another ten instances, the police had merely issued warnings. Many cases involved foreign visitors who were unaware of the law and who readily removed their veils.
The ban prohibits people from wearing clothing that covers the face in public. In 2013, local voters accepted an initiative calling for a ban on such clothing, typically worn by Muslim women. On the first day of the ban, a Swiss woman who had converted to Islam staged a protest in Locarno. Wearing a blue niqab – which covers everything but the eyes – she was the first person to be fined.
Last September, the Swiss House of Representative passed a parliamentary initiative that would ban the wearing of burkas throughout Switzerland. However, a Senate committee rejected the initiative in January, so it is unlikely to pass in that chamber of parliament. The Senate committee concluded that hardly anybody in Switzerland covers her face for religious reasons.
Meanwhile, a people’s initiative on the subject is currently underway. Its supporters have until this September to gather the 100,000 signatures necessary to force a nationwide vote on banning burkas. A survey conducted by two Swiss newspapers last year indicated that 71% of the Swiss population would support such a ban.