A rightwing-backed initiative seeking to ban any face-covering headgear in Switzerland is a pretext to attack Islam, according to the president of the Federal Commission against Racism, Martine Brunschwig Graf.

"Hidden faces disturb me but the issue should not necessarily be subject to a ban. In France it hasn't resolved anything," declared Brunschwig Graf in an interview in Tuesday's edition of the French-speaking Tribune de Genève and 24Heures newspapers.

A group of rightwing politicians that was behind the successful 2009 vote to ban the building of new minarets launched a 'burka ban' initiative in March 2016. It has until September 15, 2017 to collect 100,000 signatures to try to force a nationwide vote.

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