“Those who want to integrate are welcome irrespective of their religion. But those who rebuff our values and aim to build a parallel society based on religious laws, and want to place it over our society, are not welcome.”
Muslim women can no longer wear the full-body garment in shops, restaurants or public buildings and anyone caught flouting the ban could be struck with a £6,500 fine.
The local government of Ticino approved the referendum after the Swiss Parliament ruled that the ban did not violate the country’s federal law.
Two in three voters in the canton backed the move in an overwhelming result for a referendum, in the wake of heightened terrorist alerts across Europe.
The law which MPs voted for only applies to veils which covers the body from head to foot worn by the 40,000 Muslim women in Switzerland and also applies to all tourists visiting the area.
Other face coverings such as masks, balaclavas or crash helmets are still permitted.
Heightened security measures were put in place before the vote, with metal detectors installed to screen those entering the parliament.
Giorgio Ghiringhelli, who drew up the proposal, said the result sent a message to “Islamist fundamentalists” in the country.
He added: “Those who want to integrate are welcome irrespective of their religion.
“But those who rebuff our values and aim to build a parallel society based on religious laws, and want to place it over our society, are not welcome.”
Amnesty International termed it a “black day for human rights in Ticino.”
The Ticino law was inspired by a similar French ban, which was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.
France’s parliament passed the burqa ban in 2010, leading to protests from Islamic groups who called it discriminatory.
Women can be fined up to £150 for wearing the burqa in France, which has the biggest Muslim population in western Europe.
An attempt by a British legal team to reverse the French ban was rejected last year.
European judges ruled that the measure aimed at stopping women covering their faces in public was entirely justified, adding that the garment threatened the right of people “to live together”.
Similar laws have since been passed in Belgium and the Netherlands.
In 2009, Swiss voters backed a ban on constructing new minarets and the ruling Swiss People’s Party has made immigration a key focus of their Government.
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