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Burka ban Court orders Ticino to elaborate face-cover ban

veiled Muslim women on streets of Geneva

The ban is aimed at veiled Muslim women but it does not mention them specifically.


Canton Ticino must make more exceptions to its ban on wearing face-covering headgear in public places, the Federal Court has ruled. 

This ruling came in response to two appeals against the controversial  Ticino ban,external link which was voted in 2013. 

In particular, the court said legislation must be adapted to allow masks at certain public events, provided this did not disturb public order. It said exceptions should also be made in the case of certain commercial or advertising events. 

The Federal Court did not rule on the ban’s compatibility with religious freedom, since this was not raised in the appeals. 

Ticino’s legislation does not explicitly target Muslims – the phrasing voted on was “nobody in public streets or squares may veil or hide their face” – but in practice it means women in burkas, niqabs and other face-coverings, although not headscarves. 

Ticino was the first Swiss canton to introduce such a ban. It was followed this year by canton St. Gallen. The Swiss government has come out against a similar proposal at a national level.

Figures released by the justice ministry in September showed that the Ticino ban had affected masked football supporters the most. Hardly any wearers of burkas or niqabs, the original targets of the ban, have been fined.  

Muslims make up around 5% of the total Swiss population, with most being immigrants from the former Yugoslavia.


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