A Swiss politician has called for a total ban on wearing hijab for official photographs — for example, for passports or driving licenses — citing it as an act of “unequal treatment.”
According to the Zurich passport office, a person can wear a headscarf for religious reasons provided it does not cast a shadow or hide the face.
"Headscarves are allowed, but the face must be free - a veil, for example, does not go," the passport office said in a statement.
Switzerland’s federal police have also permitted head coverings in passport and driving licenses for reasons of faith.
“Headcoverings are in principle unacceptable [...] exceptions are only made for medical or religious reasons. In those cases the face must be visible [...] and there should not be shadows on the face," the rule reads.
However, Walter Wobmann, a member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, believes the provision is unfair that headscarves are allowed but hats and hair-bands are not.
“It is unacceptable that you can wear a hijab in a photo but not a cap,” he said. “This is not a question of religious freedom but of equal treatment.”
When asked if he wanted to campaign for a full ban on headscarves, Wobmann responded he wants to “wait for the reasoning of the Federal Council before deciding on further steps.”
The statement has been met with mixed reviews from the public. Some people are bashing Wobmann for making such a big issue over headscarves while others have given their support.
“Quiz question: What solves the problems of the future? It is A) @greeneconomy_ch or B) the pristine passport photo?” said Twitter user Cyrill Bolliger. Green Economy is an initiative requesting government intervention to ensure the country uses natural resources sustainably.
https://t.co/DD83stWdfO Ein Passfoto mit Kopftuch ist erlaubt. Eins mit Mütze oder Stirnband nicht. Kopftuch im Pass verbieten.— hadi ya (@hab_kein_nick) September 25, 2016
“A passport-size photo with headscarf is allowed. One with a hat or headband does not. Prohibit headscarves in their passport,” said another user Hadi Ya.
Others are citing the rules in the U.K., Austria and Russia that stand for Pastafarians, the followers of the Church of Flying Spaghetti Monsters, and stating if one group is allowed to wear a religious headgear, so should another.
This isn’t the first time Wobmann has tried to stir division amongst the local of Switzerland and the Muslim community.
In 2009, his party opposed the construction of banning minarets citing he wanted to stop “further Islamization in Switzerland.”
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Brendan McDermid