Senate passes motion urging government to ban burqa

The controversy surrounding the use of full Islamic coverings for women — namely the burqa and the niqab — took another twist yesterday, when the Senate approved a motion urging the government to carry out the "legal reforms necessary" to ensure that the garments are not worn in public, except at events of a strictly religious nature.

In recent months, a number of Catalan municipalities — such as Lleida and Barcelona — have voted to ban the wearing of the burqa in public spaces, despite the fact that few Muslim women in Spain actually wear them.

The Senate motion, which was presented by the opposition Popular Party, was not expected to pass today, given that the CiU Catalan nationalist bloc had announced its intention to back a Socialist-led alternative motion which stopped short of a ban. According to Montserrat Candini, the CiU senator for Barcelona, CiU had misunderstood the Socialists' stance. The motion passed calls for a ban on the burqa in "public spaces," which the PP claims means anywhere outside the home.

(Published by El País - June 24, 2010)

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