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Swiss to hold referendum on banning face-covering garments

GENEVA — The Swiss government says voters will decide whether to ban face-covering garments like masks or Muslim burqas and niqabs.

The government said Friday a vote on the ban, championed by far-right groups, will take place. That comes after advocates gathered over 100,000 signatures to put the initiative on the ballot under Switzerland's system of direct democracy, which lets voters decide major policy issues.

The executive Federal Council will set a date for the referendum, not expected before next year.

Passage would put Switzerland alongside France, Austria and other European countries in prohibiting face-covering garments. The Italian-speaking Swiss region of Ticino enacted such a ban last year.

The measure was proposed by a group including lawmakers from the nationalist Swiss People's Party that was also behind a ban on building minarets in Switzerland.

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