By Enrique Tessieri
Switzerland’s lower house of parliament voted Wednesday 101-77 to outlaw veils like the burqa when using public transport or visiting authorities, reports AP. The measure, which is being spearheaded by the Swiss People’s Party, will go for a vote in the upper house before federal elections next month.
Oskar Freysinger, a Swiss People’s Party lawmaker, said that the aim of the ban was “to avoid a religious war.” Freysinger campaigned in 2009 to prohibit the construction of minarets in Switzerland.
What is surprising about these types of bans is the extent some parties and countries will go to brush diversity under the rug. Lawmakers, who should know better in Switzerland, should understand that placing restrcitions on how Muslim women should dress in public is not the only issue. What they are doing is making a mockery of our democratic values and the important role of diversity in it.
What is the use of speaking of freedom of worship and freedom of thought if on the other hand we deny diversity?
A colleague put it in the following terms: “Acceptance of difference (and the creative energy from that acceptance) must be done on the terms of those who differ, not the terms of those with power.”
It is important that lawmakers throughout Europe as well as the public should remain vigilant against laws that limit our freedom to be different.
Veil-ban laws in Switzerland expose the weakness of such societies even if they can hide behind formidable military and economic might.