Voters in Switzerland on Sunday narrowly backed a proposal to ban full-face coverings like burqa and niqab in public places, except sites of worship, BBC reported. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party put across the proposal.

Provisional results of the vote, which the government released, showed that 51.21% voters supported the proposal. Switzerland’s direct democracy system allows the people to vote on any topic as long as it collects 1 lakh signatures.

Two Swiss cantons, or subdivisions, have already imposed local bans on face coverings. However, the Swiss government opposed a countrywide ban, saying that wearing full facial veils was a “fringe phenomenon” in the country, according to The Guardian. Instead, the government proposed a law under which people will be required to lift face coverings for the purpose of identification.

A study by the University of Lucerne in Switzerland showed that only around 30 women in the country wear the niqab, and practically no one wears a burqa, according to BBC.

Islamic groups in Switzerland said the vote marked a “dark day” for Muslims. “Today’s [Sunday’s] decision opens old wounds, further expands the principle of legal inequality, and sends a clear signal of exclusion to the Muslim minority,” the Central Council of Muslims was quoted as saying by BBC. The group added that it will move the court against the referendum.

Ines El-Shikh, the spokesperson for a Muslim women’s group called Purple Headscarves, told AFP that the proposed law created the impression of a problem, even though there were “only 30 women in burqas” in the country. “Besides being useless, this text [the proposed law] is racist and sexist,” she added.

Several European countries like France, Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands have imposed full or partial bans on face coverings in public.