Concealment of the face in public space: individual right or ethical limitation?

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Admired for its mixed, direct and parliamentary democracy, Switzerland will have to exercise this subtle political art on March 7 thanks to the federal popular initiative “Yes to the ban on hiding the face”. The problem raised is particularly divisive even within the various political families. Even feminists don’t sing in unison! This shows the need to properly analyze the argument. “Democracy is talkative, that is its main quality,” said Clemenceau. Let’s make this democratic quality our own, let’s chat, but above all let’s broaden the debate.

The initiative proposes “the ban on concealing the face in public space”. By an inappropriate and awkward language effect, even stigmatizing, opponents speak of “anti-burqa initiative”. However, the text of the initiative, in the amendment it proposes to the Constitution, nowhere mentions the burqa. “The initiative also targets criminals and vandals”, specifies the Federal Council in its message relating to this initiative. This introductory clarification should be brought to everyone’s attention.