Niqab ban enforced in Swiss canton with fines up to £8,000

A new ban on the niqab has been enforced in a Swiss town with two Muslims already being fined for breaching it.

A Swiss woman, who reverted to Islam, and a French-Algerian businessman publically opposed the ban in the city of Locarno in the canton of Tessin were both fined when the new rule came into effect last Friday.

Anyone caught wearing the niqab in the canton, which is Italian speaking and predominantly Roman Catholic, can be fined up to €9,200 (£7,890).

Nora Illi, a member of the Islamic Central Council Switzerland, intentionally breached the ban last Friday and was fined by police officers.

She was stopped alongside Rachid Nekkaz, a political activist. Mr Nekkaz was fined 200 Swiss francs (£160). Ms Illi faces a fine of between 100 and 10,000 Swiss francs (£80 – £8,000), Swiss Info reported.

More than 65 per cent of voters approved the ban in a referendum in the canton in 2013.

The Saudi Arabian embassy in Bern warned its citizens visiting Switzerland about the ban.

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“The embassy wishes to emphasise that the Ticino cantonal authorities in south eastern Switzerland have announced that as of July 1, 2016 they will start to enforce the burka (niqab) ban in public places in the canton, including in Lugano, Locarno, Magadino, Bellinzona, Ascona and Mendrisio,” the embassy wrote on Twitter.

“As school holidays [in Saudi Arabia] are coming up, the embassy reminds all honourable citizens of the necessity to respect and conform to Swiss rules and regulations in order avoid all problems.”

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