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Protest stunt

Duo defy first day of Ticino headgear ban

A Swiss woman, who has converted to Islam, and a French-Algerian businessman are facing fines after defying a new law in canton Ticino that bans face-covering headgear. The controversial law, voted in by referendum, came into force on Friday.

The duo chose the moment to publically oppose the ban in the city of Locarno. Nora Illi, a member of the radical Islamic Central Council Switzerland, walked about in the streets of Locarno wearing a full length Burka before being stopped by police officers.

She was stopped along with Rachid Nekkaz, who has also openly protested similar bans in Belgium and France. As a foreign national, Nekkaz was immediately hit with a CHF200 fine for incitement to break the law, plus CHF30 to cover costs. His eventual penalty may go up depending on the verdict of the local authorities.

Illi, from canton Zurich who converted to Islam in 2002, faces a fine of between CHF100 and CHF10,000. Nekkaz said he would pay all of the eventual fines out of his own pocket to raise awareness of what he considers a discriminatory law.

The people of Ticino voted in favour of the headgear ban in 2013. Some 65.4% of voters approved the people’s initiative – creating the first law of its kind in Switzerland. As Illi and Nekkaz were conducting their protest, members of the local government who organised the ban were also collecting signatures for an initiative calling for a nationwide equivalent.

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