Switzerland has narrowly voted in favor of banning face coverings in public, including the burqua or niqab worn by Muslim women.
Official results showed the measure had passed by 51.2% to 48.8% in Sunday’s referendum.
The proposal was put forward by the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP) which campaigned with slogans such as “Stop extremism”.
A leading Swiss Islamic group said it was “a dark day” for Muslims.
“Today’s decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” the Central Council of Muslims said in a statement, adding that it would challenge the decision in court.
The Swiss government had argued against the ban saying it was not up to the state to dictate what women wear.
According to research by the University of Lucerne (in German), almost no-one in Switzerland wears a burqua and only around 30 women wear the niqab. About 5% of Switzerland’s population of 8.6 million people are Muslim, most originating from Turkey, Bosnia and Kosovo.