The steady stream of Middle-Eastern refugees into Europe has caused a lot of cultural friction. This is most evident in Switzerland where lawmakers are currently trying to ban the face veils Muslim women wear in public.
The Swiss government is concerned that some refugees may be hiding an agenda behind the veils. Last September, its lower house of parliament passed a ban on the veils by a slim margin of 88 to 87. The measure will now have to be considered by the higher levels of the government before it can become a law. The majority of Swiss citizens think the issue is contentious enough to be put on a ballot for a vote.
The idea for the ban was first introduced by Swiss People’s Party member Walter Wobmann who does not support immigration and already pushed through a ban on mosque minarets in 2009. Wobmann said that the face veils prevent proper integration into Switzerland’s free society, and the ban would not constitute religious discrimination. If the law goes into effect, face veils would be forbidden everywhere except in places of worship.
The issue arose because of the difficulty Muslim refugees have encountered while adapting to a more open society. In one case, a pair of Muslim girls were not given Swiss citizenship because they refused to take swimming lessons from a male instructor. In another event, several Muslim boys were punished because they would not shake hands with a female teacher.
Five percent of Switzerland’s population of 8.3 million are Muslim. Of that group, very few actually wear the veils.
France and Belgium have already enacted veil bans.