New rules imposed by the local government in a Swiss state have made wearing face covering veils in public an offence, for which women will be fined.
Under the new rules, women could be fined up to £6,500 if they are seen wearing veils which completely cover their faces in public.
Female Muslims will now be banned from wearing the burqa in shops, public buildings, and restaurants; among other public places in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino.
The ban was approved by the local government in the southern Swiss state following a referendum in September 2013 which saw two in three voters backing the move.
According to the Local, the Ticino government wanted to ban burqas and niqabs as well as masks worn by demonstrators, together with balaclavas.
However, MPs voted for a law that only applies to veils worn by Muslim women and makes no exceptions for tourists visiting the area.
Although the minimum fine is £65, women can also be given a penalty of up to £6,500. The Swiss Parliament says the ban does not violate federal law but it is not yet known when the new rules will come into force.
Visitors arriving in Ticino will be informed at airports and by customs officers at the Italian border that it would be illegal for people to cover their faces with the burqa or niqab while in the state.
The ban is similar to the one put in place by France’s parliament in 2010, where women can be fined an initial penalty of £35 for wearing the garment, which can be increased to £150. The ban was met with many protests from Islamic groups who said it was discriminatory.
France has the biggest Muslim population in western Europe, and many believe that society has an agenda against them.
Despite attempts by a British legal team to reverse the burqa ban, it was rejected by the European Court of Human Rights last year.
In a test case which will have widespread implications in other countries, judges said that the measure aimed at stopping women covering their faces in public was entirely justified.
They said that the right of ordinary people to ‘live together’ was a ‘legitimate objective’, and that Muslim women wearing face coverings threatened that objective.