Having lived in Switzerland for over 10 years I’ve found the native people of this country to be nice, a little bit insular, but always having a fair dose of pragmatism when it comes to making big decisions. That is, except when it comes to Muslims. That is when rationality and level-headedness seem to go out the window.
On March 7, in just under a month, Switzerland goes to the polls to vote on banning the niqab in all public places. While the government is officially opposed to the niqab ban, arguing that existing laws are strong enough to ban forced veiling, right-wing populists and the usual bandwagon of “ex-Muslims” and their secularist friends have been whipping up a storm of outrage against niqabis.
That this issue has gone to a national vote might have you believe that you can’t cross a street without seeing a niqabi. Perhaps you imagine they are in the educational system here, in the department stores and setting the agenda in the media. But the fact is that in this country of over 8 million people current estimates put the number of niqabis at a grand total of 36. Yes, thirty-six.
To put into context just quite how insane this obsession with our sisters is: the cost of holding a referendum is around 10 million Swiss Francs ($11.1 million USD). That means the Swiss will be paying around 300,000 Swiss Francs—per woman—to organise a vote on whether those sisters should be allowed to cover their faces in public. Let us not even mention the absurdity that we’ve all been wearing face masks for the past 12 months!
This vote cannot be seen in isolation to what has been going on in the country and across continental Europe these past ten years. The motion to ban the niqab was developed and pushed by the same committee that successfully banned the building of minarets in 2009, and who have already declared that the minaret ban along with the banning of the niqab are “the first steps”. Headlines from news stories going back to 2016 ominously quote members of this committee saying they “have the headscarf in their sights”, so we have a good idea of where this is headed.
Against the backdrop of a young, politically inexperienced Muslim community, the media is having a field day. Pages and pages in newspapers and hours of TV time is given to so-called “ex-Muslims” and their friends all regurgitating the same old tropes to demonise minorities.
“It’s the sign of extremist, fascist, political Islam!”
“We want to give women freedom!”
“Any woman who chooses to wear it of her own free will, well she’s brainwashed!”
They even try to teach us our own religion and tell us that the niqab has nothing to do with Islam!
So in the interim as the community here tries to organise and stand up to face the challenges ahead, our eyes turn back to you: our brothers and sisters across Europe and North America. For after Allah and His Messenger our support comes from you.
You can help in a few ways:
1. First and most importantly, please make du’ā that Allāh swings this vote in the favour of our sisters. We are doing what we can with the little resources we have, and then we will leave the rest to Allāh. Your du’ās will help us.
2. Learn from what is happening here, and has already happened in France. Standing up for the right to wear niqab is the same as standing up for the right to wear hijab. When one of them falls, the next is likely on the way.
3. Make a small donation to our campaign. Your money will go towards paying for adverts and flyers to counter the claims made in the media, and to cover the costs of brothers and sisters travelling across the country to speak and engage with the public. Any money left over will go towards helping in the campaign against the introduction of draconian anti-terror legislation – a vote that will be held just three months later, in June 2021.
Click here to donate
- Why I won’t cry about hijab bans by Dr Salman Butt
- I wear niqab and I’m as English as they come by Holly Smith
- The Burkini Ban Shows Our Power by Sana Ahmed
- Hijab: a Generation of Change by Sanna B
- Proposed Ban on Islamic Dress in Indonesia by Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat
- “Burkini” – A Look at Modernity’s Domination and Control by ʿAbd Allāh Nūr al-Dīn
- Hijab Ban Overturned – Lessons from the St Stephen’s School Saga by Ustadh Abu Haneefah Sohail
K. Ahmed lives in Switzerland and has been working with Dawah organisations in the UK and Europe for over a decade.