A proposed headscarf ban in the Swiss Canton of Valais

A proposed headscarf ban in the Swiss Canton of Valais March 17, 2015


Yet another classic UDC campaign poster. Source.

So apparently Swiss politicians, lacking in creativity, have nothing better to do than copy what is going on in France. After the burqa ban in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino and some local issues in the German-speaking cantons, the latest part of Switzerland to jump on the “policing women’s clothing” bandwagon is the Canton of Valais. In an article in the Geneva daily Le Temps, a delegate from the Swiss Socialist Party was quoted as asking if there was really a reason to vote on this. Politicians from the Christian Democratic Party and the Swiss People’s Party, while admitting that there was no real problem in Valais, said that it is necessary to legislate on the “problem” before it becomes rampant (creeping sharia dontcha know). This was one of the same arguments used in France for their burqa ban a few years back. As few burqa wearers there are in France, I would guess that there are even less hijabis in the canton of Valais. But yes, let’s waste public resources and public money on a non-problem, shall we? This motion was supported by Swiss People’s Party (whose leader from Valais, Oskar Freysinger, is none other than the “brains” behind the 2009 minaret ban referendum), and the movement is gaining traction, with the Swiss People’s Party also starting the process at the end of February for a canton-wide headscarf ban in schools. They have 12 months to get 4000 signatures for the referendum to be put to vote. Switzerland has so many worthwhile problems to deal with politically. Nationally, there are still ongoing issues with our banks and banking secrecy, Switzerland just sold 90 million francs worth of military materials to Russia…why are people still talking about hijab when the estimated number of Muslims (all genders and clothing styles included) is only around 400,000, or slightly less than 5 percent of the population? Furthermore, Valais is dealing with several issues which are more important politically, like industrial pollution, the closing of an oil refinery which will lead to job losses… Like Prime Minister Harper in Canada , yet another bs argument against hijab is just weak political hustling and deflection from the real issues. Cantonal elections are coming up (in Zurich next month, in Valais in October 2015) so obviously a hijab ban is just a populist ply for votes, but still. I also find it weird that Switzerland has started to copy France in this regard. The first swiss “hijab affair” was in 1998, so over a decade after the first French “hijab affairs. “ However, the outcome at the time in Switzerland was quite different, with the center-right politician Thierry Beguin, who was the head of the cantonal department of education in Neuchatel at the time, saying that people had a right to an education, that it was not permissible to exclude someone from getting an education. And for me, the point of view of Mr. Beguin is the crux of the matter: what is the point of denying someone an education? Switzerland, the isolated antics of the UDC aside, has been a much easier place to live for me when I was a hijabi than in France. Switzerlandis the place I call home, a place I always imagined, even after the minaret ban, to be Muslim-friendly in its own weird Swiss way (Swiss people: they don’t care as long as you have a job. pay your bills and don’t jaywalk).   It breaks my heart that its leaders are so lacking in political innovation and courage that the best they can do is copy France.

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