Lawmakers in Switzerland's northern canton (state) of Aargau have called for a nationwide ban on burqa-style Islamic garb in public spaces, Swiss newspapers reported on Wednesday. Aargau's parliament voted to introduce a motion in Switzerland's Council of States - representing the 26 cantons - that would forbid people from wearing the dress that covers women from head to toe with only a small mesh to see through.
The move, which was approved by 89 votes to 33, follows a decision by the Belgian parliament last week to back a bill banning burqa-type clothing on security grounds.
In France, a bill that would outlaw the veils in all public places will be introduced in parliament later this month despite a ruling by the country's highest administrative body that it could be unconstitutional.
Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger quoted Aargau lawmaker Rene Kunz of the far-right Swiss Democrats party as saying the burqa was "a symbol of the domination of men over women."
Few burqas are worn in Switzerland and even members of the country's nationalist Swiss People's Party, which successfully campaigned for a referendum last year banning the construction of minarets, have questioned the purpose of a ban.
Ulrich Schlueer, a People's Party lawmaker, said that existing laws already allow full-body coverings to be banned in public space.