Europe

Swiss parliament's upper house rejects bill to ban burqas

FILE - In this  Feb. 12, 2017 file photo National Councillor Walter Wobmann displays a leaflet reading "Yes to the ban on veiling'' at the reunion of the Swiss People's Party SVP in Dornach, Switzerland.  Switzerland's upper house of parliament has rejected an initiative championed by the right-wing populist party to ban burqas, the face- and body-covering garment worn by some Muslim women.  The Council of State voted 26-9 with four abstentions Thursday  March 9, 2017 against the measure that narrowly passed the lower house in November.  (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP, file)

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2017 file photo National Councillor Walter Wobmann displays a leaflet reading "Yes to the ban on veiling'' at the reunion of the Swiss People's Party SVP in Dornach, Switzerland. Switzerland's upper house of parliament has rejected an initiative championed by the right-wing populist party to ban burqas, the face- and body-covering garment worn by some Muslim women. The Council of State voted 26-9 with four abstentions Thursday March 9, 2017 against the measure that narrowly passed the lower house in November. (Peter Klaunzer/Keystone via AP, file)  (The Associated Press)

Switzerland's upper house of parliament has rejected an initiative championed by a right-wing populist party to ban burqas, the face- and body-covering garment worn by some Muslim women.

The Council of State voted 26-9 with four abstentions Thursday against the measure that narrowly passed the lower house in November. The Italian-speaking Ticino region enacted a ban on burqas last year.

A lawmaker for the populist Swiss People's Party, which pushed for the measure, is already working to compile signatures to bring the issue up for a national referendum.

Proponents say face covering should not be allowed for security reasons, and insist wearing the burqa harms women's rights.

Opponents say the measure could fan a cultural clash, and that the burqa is rarely seen in Switzerland, if occasionally among some tourists.