The exit polls and the first official results of the referendum held today in Switzerland support the initiative launched by several parties on the prohibition of the full Islamic veil, in particular in its two most common forms, the niqab (that of the Persian Gulf area). ) and the burqa (Afghanistan). The measure does not affect the garment that covers only the hair and not the face, the model most used by most Muslim women.
The “yes” victory is around 52.7 percent of voters, compared to 47.3 who voted “no” to the ban. So far, 17 of the 26 cantons that confirm the country have approved the measure, which required a majority in both the percentage of the population and the number of cantons. The result means that the ban must now be incorporated into the Constitution and will be applied in restaurants, shops and in public spaces.
Promoters of the ban stressed that it is necessary to fight radical Islam and to defend the dignity of women. His detractors insisted, instead, that the initiative is Islamophobic and uses a vain pretext, since only a few hundred Muslims in Switzerland use the full veil. The Swiss government, for its part, is also against the ban for economic reasons: the full veil affects almost exclusively tourists from the rich Gulf countries, so its abolition would be a setback for the country’s income.
The debate around the veil, in particular the comprehensive one that also entails problems for the tasks of the Police, is not exclusive to Switzerland. Other countries such as France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark, have legislated to ban it.
The use of the Islamic headscarf, which is spread among the girls and women of the millions of European Muslims to underline their identity, is a seemingly insignificant cause that hides a lot of dynamite. For radical Islamist activists, the Muslim female garment is a religious symbol (like the Christian crucifix), which must be accepted in the West by virtue of freedom of belief.
Many scholars of Islam and not a few ulama disagree with the religious character of the veil. It is, for them, an old custom of the Arab populations, more typical of rural areas than of large cities, and not a requirement of the Koran.
Most Western governments also separate from the religious view of the veil. The regulations currently in force, and the avalanche of those that are fallow, are aimed at ensuring that the Muslim female garment does not represent an obstacle to the integration of Muslim girls and women in Western societies (all studies agree that the veil segregates girls in classrooms), and to enforce rules for identifying citizens in public places.
The dispute among Muslims themselves over the obligation of the female veil is ancient. According to some, Muhammad established it for his women, disturbed to see how they flirted with men who came to see the prophet. The initial obligation for the wives of Muhammad would have passed to that of the women of “the believers” if verse 59 of the Sura of the Parties is literally followed: “Prophet! Tell your wives, your daughters, the wives of the believers, to gird up their veils. That is the easiest way for them to be recognized and not disturbed.
Some scholars believe that the obligation was limited to the prophet’s wives and did not apply, already in Muhammad’s time, to the others. In fact the ‘musfirat’, the discovered women, were abundant then. What began as custom tended to become sacred over time, as with many other aspects of the Qur’an, where it is difficult to find the border between the sacred and the profane.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism