Switzerland is the smallest European country to ban full-face veils

Switzerland is the smallest European country to ban the niqab, the full Islamic veil of the face that only shows the eyes.

Attempts were made in some European countries to regulate or ban the niqab – the largest of the burqa – and France issued its first public ban in 2010.

Forbidden in public places

The European Court of Human Rights upheld the ban imposed by France on covering the face in 2014 and rejected the arguments that the ban on the face veil violates religious freedom.

In France, the law has resulted in around 1,600 arrests since it came into effect. Violations can lead to fines of up to € 150.

Belgium followed suit in 2011, banning the full covering of the face in public places in general with violations punishable by imprisonment of up to seven days or a fine.

This was followed by Bulgaria (2016), Austria (2017) and Denmark (2018), with fines ranging from 102 euros for the first offense and more than 1,300 euros for repeat offenses.

Partially prohibited

Although it can be worn on the street, the Netherlands banned full-face veils in educational and public institutions, hospitals and public transport in 2019, with a fine of € 150.

Norway bans the headscarf in schools and kindergartens.

Schools can be banned

The United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany have passed laws allowing schools or school districts – and in the UK’s case, hospitals – to decide whether to ban full face veils.

However, UK employers must have ‘legitimate’ health and safety reasons or a practical reason to do so.

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In Germany, faces of officials and officials, including judges and soldiers, must also be revealed, and people may also be required to remove the covers to verify their identity documents.

The far right in Italy

A Public Order Act passed in 1975 made it illegal to cover the face in public places, but the courts systematically overturned domestic steps to use the prohibition to ban the full face veil.

Two Northern CIMA regions – Lombardy and Veneto – have banned the burqa and full-face veils in hospitals and public places.

Spain recently lifted a ban on full-face veils in public places in the Catalonia region.

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