Women will be prohibited from wearing burqas in one Switzerland canton, or state, with those who do not abide by the new law facing hefty fines, according to the Express in the U.K. The Ticino government voted to pass the ban on the Islamic body coverings after the Swiss parliament determined in 2013 that such measures did not violate federal law.
Muslim women wearing burqas that cover their entire bodies will be subject to fines of as much as $9,835. Head coverings such as balaclavas, helmets and masks will still be permitted in the Italian-speaking region in southern Switzerland. The new law will not exclude tourists visiting the area, according to the Daily Mail in the U.S. It is not known when the new law go into effect.
Giorgio Ghiringhelli sponsored the legislation and said its passage sent a message to "Islamist fundamentalists." He told the Express: "Those who want to integrate are welcome irrespective of their religion. But those who rebuff our values and aim to build a parallel society based on religious laws, and want to place it over our society, are not welcome."
Human-rights groups condemned the ban. Amnesty International called its adoption a "black day for human rights in Ticino."
The move came as Islamophobic sentiment has become more pervasive in Europe after the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris Nov. 13. Demonstrators in Milan and Rome rallied against anti-Islamic attitudes Saturday following the attacks that claimed at least 130 lives.
"No to terrorism, yes to mosques," protester Davide Piccardo, a member of Caim, an umbrella organization of Islamic societies, told Agence France-Presse. He called for "a crackdown on worrying Islamophobia."
Muslims account for about 5 percent of the population in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Federal Statistical Office.