The measure, which was approved by 53% of those voting, highlighted a growing unease with the number of immigrants in Western Europe who arrive from poor countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East to take advantage of the continent's peace, prosperity and generous social protections. The European Union's border patrol force, Frontex, recently deployed international armed guards along a stretch of the Greek-Turkish border that has become a major entry point for illegal Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian and North African immigrants. The richest European countries have large populations of legal and illegal immigrants, more than 20% in Switzerland's case. In another signal of the souring atmosphere, France, host to a large immigrant population that has helped give it Western Europe's largest Muslim community, toughened its laws recently to make it easier to expel illegal arrivals and strip French nationality from recently naturalized citizens convicted of killing a policeman or government official. Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the EU's executive commission in Brussels, said that Europe is facing a populist surge in reaction to the influx of foreigners who are causing rising crime rates and growing burdens on social benefits such as health insurance and education. The referendum in Switzerland was held on an initiative from the ultra-nationalist Swiss People's Party, which also sponsored a vote in 2009 that banned construction of minarets beside mosques. Both proposals were opposed by elected officials in the federal government in Berne but were endorsed by a majority of those voting in the binding referendums.
Claire Berlinski: Ban The Burqa