Stop Head Garment Ban That Discriminates Against Muslims

Target: Guy Parmelin, President of Switzerland

Goal: Condemn prohibition of faith-based face coverings worn by many Muslims.

Democracies tout freedom of religion and decry infringements on religious liberty, yet in many of these regions the principle only seems to apply to the dominant religion. Take Switzerland for example. The country, famous for its neutrality and openness, recently introduced and passed a referendum banning veils and other full face coverings from being worn in public. Supporters of the proposition claimed the measure would combat potential violence, but the disproportionate impact on the country’s Muslim population is clear.

In Islam, facial coverings called burqa or niqaba are relatively common, particularly for women. Many Muslims, as an integral part of their faith, wear these coverings at all times while in public view. The new law would essentially prohibit these coverings at any time except during religious services. This action would be the equivalent of barring some Christian women who do not believe in wearing pants from wearing dresses instead.

Despite assurances that discrimination played no role in this ban, the proposal was the brainchild of a right-wing organization known for its previous anti-Islamic stances. In fact, one campaign ad for the measure featured a Muslim woman alongside the words “stop extremism.” Encoding discrimination in any system under the guise of legality can never be tolerated.

Sign the petition below to urge Switzerland to rethink and rescind this hateful dictate.


Dear President Parmelin,

Countless businesses, rights advocates, and members of Switzerland’s own government stood in opposition to the veil ban recently enacted. They believed this policy would set a dangerous precedent that cast Swiss society not as an open and welcoming destination but as an enabler of systemic discrimination. They were right.

Muslims represent around five percent of your population. They already likely felt marginalized and dismissed. For the past several months, they endured a public relations campaign that explicitly targeted them; they saw their own leaders and fellow citizens enshrine this assault into law. Freedom of religion is a benchmark of democracy for all, not for a select few. No person should be singled out or attacked for his or her faith.

Please act in good faith and do everything in your power to bring this discriminatory policy to an end.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Denise Chan

One Comment

  1. Well done Switzerland. This is a sensible decision. If Muslims don’t like the excellent rule enforced, then kick them out of your country.

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