Barcelona set to follow Catalan trend with fast-track burqa ban

Barcelona City Hall will pass a decree preventing the use of the Islamic burqa, niqab or any other garment or article that covers a person’s face, such as a ski mask, in the city's public facilities.

The move was announced yesterday by Socialist Barcelona mayor Jordi Hereu in response to a motion presented last month by the opposition Popular Party (PP) to ban all-covering Islamic dress in all public areas of the Catalan capital, including in the street. The burqa ban will affect all citizen-advice offices, daycare centers, music schools, social service facilities and markets, among other areas.

Hereu defended the measure saying that itwas a security-related matter, and one of "common sense." He denied that it was "a religious issue," seeing as the ban on face coverings also includes ski masks and motorcycle helmets.

The mayor also rejected a full street ban saying that this fell outside City Hall’s jurisdiction.

Last month Lleida became the first Spanish city to prohibit the burqa and niqab in all municipal buildings. Several other Catalan towns are currently studying similar measures.

The main opposition Popular Party is in favor of passing legislation to prevent the use of the burqa everywhere except in the home.

(Published by El País – June 15, 2010)

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