(Asian News Hub) – Swiss voters approved a proposition Sunday banning facial coverings in public. Niqabs and burqas, worn by almost no one even among the country’s Muslim population, will be banned outside of religious institutions. The new law doesn’t apply to facial coverings for health reasons.
Switzerland will join several European countries that have implemented a ban on facial coverings, including France, Denmark, the Netherlands and Austria.
The new legislation was brought to the ballot through a people’s initiative launched by the nation’s right-wing Egerkingen Committee, the same group that led the charge to ban minarets over a decade ago, the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation reported. In 2017, the group presented over 100,000 signatures to the government and demanded the issue be brought to a national vote.
The Swiss government opposed the nationwide initiative as excessive and argued such bans should be decided by individual regions, two of which already have a “burqa ban” in place.
The ban barely passed a majority vote, with 51.2% of the Swiss voting in support of the proposal. Only six of the country’s cantons, similar to states, voted against the proposition, according to the SBC.
One of the largest backers of the initiative was the nationalist Swiss People’s Party, which applauded the outcome of the vote and called the new measure “A strong symbol in the fight against radical political Islam.”
“The burqa creates a barrier between the person wearing it and the environment and thus prevents integration into society,” Swiss People’s Party President Marco Chiesa said in a statement.
Some feminist groups and progressive Muslims reportedly were supporters of the initiative, arguing that full face coverings are oppressive to women.
Other groups felt the new restriction was Islamophobic and that women should not be told what to wear.
The Islamic Central Council of Switzerland said the results were “Islamophobically motivated.”
“Today’s decision is tearing open old wounds, expanding the principle of legal inequality and sending a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” the group wrote.
Researchers found that at most a few dozen Muslim women wear full face coverings in Switzerland. About 5% of Switzerland’s population of 8.6 million is Muslim, the BBC reported.
Swiss authorities now have two years to draft the legislation, according to The Associated Press.
Australia adds U.S.-based neo-nazi group to list of banned Terrorist organizations
(Asian News Hub) – The Australian government added the neo-Nazi extremist group The Base, based in the United States, to their list of banned terrorist organizations Wednesday as the country struggles with increased neo-Nazi extremists, the Associated Press reported.
The Base is a far-right, neo-Nazi and white supremest group that was formed in the United States in 2018. It is the second far-right group to make the Australian banned terrorist organization list, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.
“I have sufficient information in front of me to be concerned and to understand that The Base meets the threshold for listing as a terrorist organization,” Andrews said. “We will look closely at their membership and we will take action once they are fully listed under the Criminal Code.”
Once a group is added to the list of banned terrorist organizations being a member, participating in activities or supporting the cause is a criminal offense. Anyone who is found guilty can face up to 25 years in prison. There are currently 26 organizations listed as terrorists for the country, according to the Australian Government Attorney General’s Department.
“We know there is a threat of terrorism here in Australia and that there is a threat of terrorism right across the world,” Andrews said.
Pakistan to allow India to send wheat to Afghanistan through its territory: PM Imran Khan
(Asian News Hub) – Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan announced on Monday that his government will allow India to send a humanitarian shipment of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat to neighbouring Afghanistan through its territory after finalisation of the transit modalities, PTI reported.
Khan, who chaired the first Apex Committee meeting of the newly established Afghanistan Inter-ministerial Coordination Cell (AICC) in Islamabad, also took the opportunity to remind the international community of the collective responsibility to support Afghanistan to avoid a humanitarian crisis.
During the meeting, Khan announced Pakistan’s decision to allow the 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat India has offered to provide Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance to go through Pakistan as soon as modalities are finalised with the Indian side, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.
Currently, Pakistan only allows Afghanistan to export goods to India but doesn’t allow any other two-way trade through the border crossing. Last month, India announced 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat for Afghanistan as humanitarian assistance and requested Pakistan to ship the food grain via the Wagah border.
Afghanistan’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi had also requested Prime Minister Khan to allow India to transport wheat via Pakistan, suggesting that the Taliban government was willing to accept the humanitarian assistance from India. India has contributed to the humanitarian requirements of the Afghan people.
This included providing more than 1 million metric tonnes of wheat to Afghanistan over the past decade. Last year too India assisted Afghanistan with 75,000 metric tonnes of wheat, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said at the United Nations High-Level Meeting on the Humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in September. However, there were reports that Pakistan has blocked India’s efforts to provide wheat to the Afghan people, amidst the chill in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad over the Kashmir issue.
Khan also ordered immediate shipment of humanitarian assistance worth Rs 5 billion comprising wheat, emergency medical supplies, winter shelters and other supplies to Afghanistan, Radio Pakistan reported. He instructed all ministries to facilitate Afghans to the maximum and also approved in-principle tariff and sales tax reduction on key Afghan exports to Pakistan. Khan ordered that the facility of free COVID vaccination for all Afghans entering Pakistan from land borders be continued.
National Security Adviser Dr. Moeed Yusuf, who is also the Convener of AICC, made a detailed presentation to brief the civil and military leadership on the current economic situation in Afghanistan and the progress made by AICC in coordinating national efforts for humanitarian assistance and border facilitation for Afghans.
Prime Minister Khan also directed that bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad in Afghanistan be revived to facilitate travellers on both sides. To further facilitate Afghans, the visa duration will be relaxed such that visas are granted within three weeks at the most, the report said. Khan also instructed the National Security Adviser to visit Afghanistan to hold delegation-level talks and agree on specific areas where immediate capacity building support shall be provided to Afghans.
The meeting was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tarin, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and senior civil and military officers.
UAE Princess calls zee news anchor ‘terrorist’
(Asian News Hub) – UAE princess Hend bint Faisal Al Qasim has lashed out at an organiser for inviting Zee News anchor Sudhir Chaudhary to her country despite the latter’s role in promoting Islamophobia through his TV broadcasts.
Addressing Chaudhary as a ‘terrorist,’ the UAE princess reminded the organiser how the controversial TV anchor had been routinely defaming Islam and its followers.
On twitter she wrote “how dare how dare you invite an Islamophobe to my peaceful country”
In her subsequent social media post, she tweeted, “In 2019 & 2020, Sudhir Chaudhry ran shows on Zee News where he spewed venom against Muslims for leading anti-citizenship protests. He ran fake stories, targeting Muslim students and women for leading the citizenship protest in Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi & other parts of the country.”
She asked the organiser, the Indian Charter Accountants Association’s Abu Dhabi chapter, why they were ‘bringing an Islamophobe and hater to my peaceful country?’
She wrote, “Sudhir Chaudhary is a Hindu rightwing anchor known for his deeply Islamophobic shows that target India’s 200 million Muslims. Many of his prime time shows have directly contributed to real world violence against Muslims across the country.”
She tagged Institute of Chartered Accountants of India to ask, “Why are you bringing an intolerant terrorist to the UAE?!”
Chaudhary has been at the forefront of Indian TV anchors, often referred to as lapdogs or TV criminals, in fuelling hatred against Muslims in India. He had led a campaign to defame Indian Muslims by blaming them for spreading coronavirus in 2020. Several Indian high courts later concluded that blaming the members of the Tablighi Jamaat for the spread of the virus was part of propaganda.
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