Swiss politician calls for hijab ban on passport photos

A right-wing politician has called for the hijab to be banned from passport photos in Switzerland.

Walter Wobmann, who called for the hijab ban was also behind the campaign which led to the banning of minarets in 2009.

Currently no headscarves are allowed in the photos but as in the UK exceptions are made for religious requirements.

Wobmann, a member of the Swiss People’s Party- Switzerland’s largest political party- wants to ban the hijab to promote “equal treatment”.

“It is unacceptable that you can wear a hijab in a photo but not a cap,” he told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

“This is not a question of religious freedom, but of equal treatment.”

He made no mention of outlawing other religious head coverings such as turbans for Sikhs.

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Swiss MP Walter Wobmann
Swiss MP Walter Wobmann

In 2009 the Swiss People’s Party successfully campaigned to ban minarets.

It has also pushed through a draft bill in parliament this week calling for a nationwide ban of the niqab.

A niqab ban already exists in the Swiss canton of Ticino where the penalty for violation is up to £8,000. Enacted in July this year the law has already seen two prosecutions.

There is growing concern the canton’s ban could damage the local economy as many niqab wearing tourists from the Gulf states visit Ticino each year.

Luca Albertoni, president of Ticino’s chamber of commerce, told Tribune de Geneve the ban had added to the already uncertain economic climate within the sector.

He said: “I don’t question the substance of the popular vote, but we must take into account that negative consequences cannot be ruled out.

“For the hotel and commercial sectors, already hit by difficulties, these are real fears.”

Criteria for Swiss citizenship and integration are becoming controversial in Switzerland.

In June, two Muslim school girls were denied citizenship for not wanting to take school swimming lessons with boys. They were refused naturalisation for not complying with the school curriculum.

In 2012, a Kosovan Muslim family were denied citizenship for their dress preferences and apparent lack of communication with fellow citizens, despite being fluent in German (one of Switzerland’s three national languages) and being aware of local customs.

Switzerland has a population of 8 million of which 5% are Muslim.

Most Muslims in the country are of Kosovan and Turkish origin.

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