Cantonal politicians in Aargau have sparked fierce debate by voting in favour of a Standesinitiative (a cantonal proposal to amend the federal constitution), banning women from wearing the burka and similar forms of clothing that cover the face.
The proposal is the brainchild of Rend Kunz, a Swiss Democrat (SD) member of the Aargau cantonal council, and follows examples of similar legislation being considered in France and Belgium. The vote at the beginning of May resulted in almost two-thirds of the Aargau cantonal council approving the initiative. Despite opposition from both the Social Democratic Party (SP) and the Green Party, most political parties were unanimous in the view that burkas, and other such veils, have no place in Swiss society.
"Veiled women in public spaces do not allow themselves to fit in with our traditions and values," Kunz argues, and he is not alone in his view.
"The burka is a power symbol of men's dominance over women," says CVP former-congresswoman, Rosmarie Zapfl.
Even the SP, which opposes the initiative, has certain...