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SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA

Anti-minaret group mulls burka ban initiative

The group responsible for launching Switzerland's anti-minaret initiative has called the rejection of a motion to ban burkas on public transport and in dealings with authorities “an affront”.

Anti-minaret group mulls burka ban initiative
Antoine Taveneaux (File)

The National Council on Monday rejected a motion by Swiss People’s Party member Oskar Freysinger to ban the wearing of burka in certain situations.

The Council decided with a significant majority that imposing such a ban was unnecessary.

Social Democratic Party spokesman, Hans Stöckli, said that the majority of women wearing burkas in Switzerland were tourists, Swiss news agency SDA reported.

Furthermore Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga warned that a blanket ban could violate the Geneva Convention on Refugees, as it would not distinguish between those with and without refugee status.

But the minds behind the anti-minaret initiative, the so-called Egerkinger Committee, believe a burka ban to be worthwhile.

The Egerkinger Committee claims that the rejection of the motion to ban burkas pointedly ignores the majority who expressly reject the “Islamization” of Switzerland.

The Committee maintains that while the Swiss constitution guarantees freedom of expression, wearing a veil is a denial of that freedom.

“Freedom of expression is exercised in our country with an undisguised, open, readable face,” the Committee said in a statement.

The Committee said that it was ready to launch a popular initiative for the banning of the burka “without delay”.

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SIMONETTA SOMMARUGA

Here’s how to snare an invite to the Swiss president’s birthday party

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga is turning 60 on May 14 and is planning a party with a difference by inviting along all Swiss citizens who share her birthday.

Here's how to snare an invite to the Swiss president's birthday party
Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

There were 94,372 births in Switzerland in 1960 — the year Sommaruga was born — meaning that the average maximum number of invitees would be around 258.

Sommaruga is not taking any chances with potential gatecrashers and is asking prospective celebrants to submit a copy of their passport through the presidency website.

“I would be delighted to receive your registration for my birthday party,” Sommaruga wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

 

She is also keeping the location secret and said only that it would be “in the Bern area” — the Swiss capital. 

The Swiss presidency is a largely ceremonial role that rotates annually between leading political parties.

Sommaruga, a Socialist Party member who already served as president in 2015, took up her post on January 1 and delivered her New Year's address from her local bakery.

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