As a Swiss law banning burqas came into effect in Switzerland’s Ticino region on Friday, enforcing a fine of over $11,000 for those who violate the law, a Muslim convert and a businessman protesting the ban were fined, British newspaper reported.
The controversial law, which was voted in by a referendum, outlaws face-covering headgear.
Nora Illi and Rachid Nekkaz, prominent Muslim-rights campaigners, walked in the streets of Locarno in burqas after the rule was introduced.
Police stopped Nekkaz, a French-Algerian national, and Illi, a convert from Zurich, and fined them over $230 and $9,900 respectively.
Local government officials, while Nekkaz and Illi protested, collected signatures calling for a nationwide ban on the burqa.
The law, which originated as a people’s initiative, received 65 per cent of the vote in Ticino in 2013, where the majority of the population are Roman Catholic. The law was approved by the local government in November after a parliament ruling stated that it did not contradict Swiss federal law.
Georgio Ghiringhelli, who proposed the law, said the ruling would send a message to “Islamic fundamentalists” in the country.
“Those who want to integrate are welcome, irrespective of their religion, but those who rebuff our values and aim to build a parallel society based on religious laws, and want to place it over our society, are not welcome,” he said.
The imposition of the law comes days after reports that two Muslim girls were denied Swiss citizenship after they refused to take swimming lessons alongside boys at their school.