• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Catalonia lifts veil on 'burqa ban' plans

Steve Tallantyre · 4 Jul 2013, 16:35

Published: 04 Jul 2013 16:35 GMT+02:00

The proposed rule will also control the public wearing of other garments including helmets and masks, Ramon Espadaler, Interior Minister for Catalonia, announced in the autonomous region's parliament on Wednesday.

A full debate will follow the introduction of the public safety motion designed to combat people concealing their faces in public places.

Espadaler argued that it had nothing to do with "religious issues", according to Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

"It is not a general prohibition."

"That would lead us nowhere and we would be infringing on fundamental rights," he said.

He added: "We want to be sensitive" and urged a "careful, subtle and clear debate" to find a "consensus".

Burqas, which cover the face completely and incorporate a mesh screen to see through, are rarely seen in Catalonia.

The niqab, another traditional Muslim garment, covers the face but leaves the eyes visible.

In Catalonia, as in the rest of Spain and most Western countries, both the niqab and the burqa are much less commonly worn than the hijab, a square headscarf which does not cover the face at all.

Spain's Supreme Court in March annulled a previous burqa ban introduced by a number of municipalities, including Lleida in western Catalonia, on the grounds that local authorities do not have the jurisdiction to regulate fundamental rights.

The court also said that the council in the mid-sized Catalan town had contravened the European Convention on Human Rights, originally signed back in 1950.

Espadaler referred to the previous legislative failure by saying that "the path taken by other town halls was not the right one but there is a problem here and we do not wish to look the other way".

Story continues below…

The minister drew attention to the Mossos d'Esquadra, Catalonia's regional police force, who have been forced to wear identification numbers when controlling crowds at demonstrations after a number of complaints of human rights abuses.

He pointed out that the new proposed law would also affect demonstrators and protesters who cover their faces in public.

Burqas are banned in France and Belgium while Italy and the Netherlands have also studied the idea in recent years.

Spain has not yet adopted a nationwide law on this issue and the legislation proposed in Catalonia will be, if adopted, the first of any autonomous government.

Steve Tallantyre (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Christmas Day elections loom as opposition blocks govt deal
Rajoy has not got the support he needs to form a government. Photo: AFP

Spain could be heading for the polls on Christmas Day if Mariano Rajoy fails to win a confidence vote in Parliament today.

The ten commandments for expats living in Spain
Sometimes you just need to throw yourself into the local culture. Photo: AFP

Irish expat Carol Byrne outlines the ten golden rules you will need to follow to be a happy expat in Spain.

Madrid LGBT group takes action over ‘gay cure therapy’
Madrid introduced anti-homophobic laws earlier this month. Photo: AFP

A Spanish pressure group that fights against homophobia has filed a complaint against a therapist who offers “to cure homosexuality”.

Expat Spain: Warm, friendly and brilliant for family life
Spain is one of the best nations for expats. Photo: theinterngroup.com/ Flickr

A great climate and friendly locals make up for the lack of career opportunities in Spain, according to a survey ranking the quality of life for expats around the world.

La Tomatina: Everything you need to know about epic fiesta

Every year on the last Wednesday in August the town of Buñol prepares to get seriously messy when it stages what has become the world's biggest food fight.

Costa del Sol beach closed over shark fears
The Civil Guard patrolled the beach looking for the shark. Photo: Pedrator_desert/ Twitter

Thought jellyfish were a nuisance? Fuengirola just got a lot scarier.

The Local List
15 amazing Unesco World Heritage sites to visit in Spain
The town of Ávila. Photo: Chroniron/Wikimedia Commons.

Spain has an impressive 45 locations listed as Unesco World Heritage sites for their cultural significance or natural beauty, including some that are entire towns. Here's a look at some of the most stunning.

Rajoy says forming new government ‘a wish’
Spain has been subject to a political deadlock for the past eight months. Pierre-Philippe Marcou / AFP file picture

Spain's acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned Saturday ahead of parliament's confidence vote for a second term in office that the formation of a new government remained "more of a wish".

Spanish police smash Chinese immigration ring
The Chinese nationals paid the ring about €8,000 to get a fake work contract. Photo: Cristina Quicler /AFP

Spanish police said Saturday they had smashed a major ring allegedly providing Chinese nationals living illegally in the country with fake contracts as domestic staff so they could get residency permits.

Gallery
10 super Spanish drinks everyone should try
Photo: Ignacio Palomo Duarte/Flickr

While we've all been tempted by the Spanish holiday classic of a chilled glass of sangria, Spain has much more to offer when it comes to tantalizing tipples.

Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Shocking video shows torture of young calf during fiesta
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Politics
What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Features
Eight reasons to spend your gap year exploring Spain
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
International
'We won't ban burqinis on our beaches' insists Barcelona
National
British dad drowns saving daughter on red flagged beach
National
11 Spanish words that English must adopt right now
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Justin Bieber just bought an amazing new pad in Lanzarote
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
Recipe: How to make Andalusian Ajo Blanco soup
Travel
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Travel
Ten touristy types you'll meet in Spain: Which one are you?
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Lifestyle
Ten top tips to avoid looking like a guiri when in Spain
International
Don't miss this spectacular meteor shower over Spain
Travel
Desperate Ryanair passenger chases after missed flight
Travel
What's on in Spain: August 2016
National
Get your kit off! Spain's ten best nudist beaches
National
German firestarter blames blaze on 'toilet paper mishap'
National
Flashmob prank sparks 'terror attack' panic in Spanish resort
Culture
Croquemon Go: Spain invents twist on game to 'eat 'em all'
Technology
Six free apps to simplify your summer in Spain
National
Spanish parents fight for right to name their son 'Wolf'
National
Beach closed after shark attack in southern Spain
National
Spain ups security at tourist spots as terrorism fears grow
3,239
jobs available