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St. Gallen becomes 2nd Swiss canton to ban face covering in public

Xinhua,November 30, 2017 Adjust font size:

GENEVA, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The Swiss canton of St. Gallen has voted in favor of introducing a ban on covering the face in public, described in the country's media as a "burka ban," Swiss media reported Wednesday.

A burka is a covering used by Muslim women over the whole body and face, except for a slit near the eyes, and the ban on face covering in St. Gallen applies under certain conditions.

The law was approved Tuesday by 57 votes to 55 in its second reading in the cantonal parliament, the Swiss News Agency, ATS, reported.

St. Gallen, close to Zurich, is the second of Switzerland's 26 cantons to legislate on face-covering, following the approval of a similar law by voters in Italian-speaking Ticino four years ago.

The parliament in the eastern canton on Tuesday confirmed the ban despite opposition from the cantonal cabinet and left-wing as well as center-right political parties.

Under the new law, the burka can be banned in public spaces if the person wearing the veil is considered a threat to security or to "religious or social peace."

Supporters of the law have argued that a ban has a "preventive" effect, while opponents in St. Gallen consider it unnecessary and ineffective.

Several countries in the European Union, including France, the Netherlands, and Belgium, as well the Catalonia region of Spain, have outlawed the wearing of face coverings in public. Enditem