Switzerland's referendum on the wearing of face coverings in public has passed with the narrowest of margins.
Final results from Sunday's referendum have shown the controversial measure to have passed, 51.2% to 48.8% for a ban on face coverings.
The proposed law includes religious dress including burqa or niqab, worn by Muslim women.
The Central Council of Muslims in Switzerland called it a "dark day" for Switzerland.
"Today's decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority," said a statement from the Central Council.
Schweizerische Volkspartei [Swiss People's Party] which had campaigned in favour of the ban called the result "a clear message against radical Islam and for Swiss way of life" in a statement on the party website.
Poll data showed that while the outcome was predictably close, the referendum was expected to pass.
However if the law comes to pass it is more likely to affect those travelling through Switzerland than Swiss Muslims. Research by the University of Lucerne estimated that there are very few wearers of the niqab in Switzerland, with only 1 in 30 Muslim women surveyed saying that they wear a face covering. Less that five per cent of the Swiss population identifying as Muslim.
It seems odd then that the item of clothing worn by fewer than 7000 people in a country of 8.2 million could trigger a national referendum.
Lawmakers predict that it will be difficult to enact in its current form, given the proposal pre-dates the start of the 2020 pandemic. Since the referendum was set in motion all Swiss adults have been required to wear marks and face coverings due to Coronavirus restrictions.
The current draft of the law banning face coverings in public does not explicitly name any individual item of clothing or Islam, however it hasn't stopped the legislation being referred to as a "burqa ban".
The People's Party SVP has been campaigning on slogans saying the veil ban is part of a struggle against "radical political Islam" and to gain "independence" from EU workplace legislation.
In 2009 the party successfully led a referendum against the building of minarets [Islamic prayer towers] in Switzerland.