Swiss authorities just fined two Muslims for wearing burkas in a public place.
Wearing burkas in public is now banned in the Swiss canton Ticino, and the new law went into effect July 1 after a long road to implementation, The Independent reports.
Shortly after the rule came into play, Nora Illi and Rachid Nekkaz, a French-Algerian businessman and activist, flagrantly violated the ban, which prompted police officers to stop them and issue a fine to Nekkaz of roughly $230. This fine could still increase.
Illi, who belongs to the Islamic Central Council Switzerland, on the other hand, is set to be slapped with a fine of nearly $10,000, but it’s unclear whether either of them will suffer much hardship in their defiance of the law.
Nekkaz set up a fund back in 2011 of roughly a million euros to support women around the world who choose to defy Islamic garb bans.
Although the ban only exists in Ticino, local government officials are working on bringing in signatures for a nationwide prohibition on the Islamic headgear.
In 2013, 65.4 percent of voters in Ticino backed the proposal in a referendum.
The Saudi Arabia embassy in Switzerland also told its citizens to comply with the new rule in Ticino.
“The embassy wishes to emphasise that the Ticino cantonal authorities in south eastern Switzerland have announced that as of July 1, 2016 they will start to enforce the burka (niqab) ban in public places in the canton, including in Lugano, Locarno, Magadino, Bellinzona, Ascona and Mendrisio,” the embassy said on Twitter, according to The Telegraph.
“As school holidays [in Saudi Arabia] are coming up, the embassy reminds all honorable citizens of the necessity to respect and conform to Swiss rules and regulations in order avoid all problems,” the embassy added.
There are almost no Muslims in Ticino. Out of a population of 350,000, the vast majority, 70 percent, are Roman Catholic.
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