Switzerland Bans Face Coverings in Public

Growing Xenophobia

An opinion poll in Switzerland on 7th March suggests that 51.2% of the voters support a ban on face coverings in Switzerland.  This proposal was put forward by the right winged Swiss People’s party and is expected to directly affect 5% Muslims living in Switzerland. According to the Swiss Islamic council it was a dark day for democracy as Islamophobia has penetrated the Swiss Constitution.

However, a few voices in Switzerland claim that ban on face coverings obstructs the choice of liberty. People on the left view face covering as a symbol of conservative society. At this point in time face masks are mandatory in Switzerland owing to the Corona virus. Some experts suggest that the proposal does not mention any religion as supporters of the face covering ban only aim to prevent violent protestors from hiding their faces. However, the Swiss People’s party continues to equate face covering with extremism. Xenophobia in Europe shows growing prejudice against people from other countries. Some scholars have highlighted problems such as poverty, unemployment or lack of service delivery as the obvious motives of socio- economic causes of xenophobia. A study by the African Centre of Migration and Society (ACMS) at Wills University suggests that xenophobia is witnessed in places where foreigners are blamed for social problems. These social problems could be unemployment, crime or anger over limited access to basic services such as electricity and water. Misuse of public finances by officials remains a constant problem in almost all third world countries. Therefore many people from the third world countries continue to experience xenophobia in some of the most sophisticated societies of the world. The Swiss government however has opposed the nationwide ban on full body covering. The Swiss law minister has argued that full body covering is rare in Switzerland and most of the people in full body covering are wealthy tourists from Saudi Arabia. Therefore a ban on veil may damage the Swiss tourism industry. Now those who refuse to reveal their faces would have to bear a fine worth 11300 US $. Many people in Europe view migrant influx as a burden on their society. Therefore facts such as violence, intolerance and absence of basic human rights in poor countries fit any preconceived beliefs regarding migrants. Xenophobia is a growing problem in Europe as third world countries fail to address problems such as corruption, misuse of power and prejudice against minorities.

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