So the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino’s burqa ban (voted on since 2013) now involves fines for those who dare venture into Ticinese streets in burqas. I always joke that Switzerland is about twenty years behind its neighbors politically and here we are with Swizerland catching burqa ban fever.
Things that get voted in Switzerland take a while to get translated into law, or in this case, laws. As Swissinfo notes, to enfore the burqa ban has taken some time to implement, and the current numbers being thrown around are between 100 and 10,000 swiss francs (roughly the same in USD). For a little context, given that the average monthly salary for all sectors, all people in Switzerland was around 6000 CHF in 2010 and most of the burqa-wearers are tourists (who mostly go to Geneva anyway, in my personal experience), this is a little way too much drama for such a minor problem. WIth everything else going on in Europe, with everything else going on with Muslims in Europe, let’s target an already marginalized population, Muslim women, instead of actually enacting meaningful legislation, shall we?
One take away is that Switzerland is having an election next week for one of its seven executive seats due to the resignation of Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf following her party’s loss in the general election. One of the front runners who is on the official ticket is Swiss People’s Party ally and member of the Ticinese La Lega party, Norman Gobbi (we’ll just gloss over the fact that I am now old enough to have people my age run for national offices). As I mentioned in a post almost a year ago, we could be looking at a federal burqa ban in Switzerland the way things are going, and with Gobbi potentially coming in and the Swiss People’s Party having two seats for the first time since Widmer-Schlumpf, I worry about the possible implications, even with Switzerland’s known federalism and power staying with the communes and the cantons (which is why a post that is a year old is still a possibility). Norman Gobbi’s blog has several articles (some republished from other sources) tagged “Islam”, which also talk about terrorism, security and so on. His position on the burqa is quite clear and in line with the Swiss People’s Party line- he hates it and that colors his opinion on Islam- when all your posts about Islam also mention terrorism…come on y’all.
Even worse, in this same election, Oskar Freysinger, the instigator of the 2009 minaret ban, is considered an outside chance, even though his party has rules about people running outside of the official ticket. His chances of winning are low, certainly, but the point I am trying to make here is that these are the types of candidates being fielded for national office. Like I said in my post from a year ago linked above, none of this is happening in a vacuum. Are burqa bans really what our politicans need to be focusing on? Is this really about burqas or is this about Islam? Just today in Le Temps, there was an article about how people who “practice islamic extremism” will be excluded from the Swiss army. With all the dudes finding ways to be declared inapt for service (registering with the army is mandatory for Swiss men), I don’t think someone who wants to fight for ISIS is going to be rushing to join the swiss army for the chocolate and the beer, and the article notes that this measure could affect an unconfirmed number of FOUR men. Out of 1.5 MILLION men available for military service and out of the roughly 40,000 who were declared available last year. This is such a non-issue folks, just like the burqa. So again, I ask, is this really about burqas?