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Barcelona is to become the first major Spanish city to ban the wearing of the full Islamic veil in public places. The move was announced by Socialist mayor Jordi Hereu who said that it would ban items of clothing such as the niqab and the burka in institutional buildings such as schools and hospitals.
“It is unthinkable that someone can enter a place without being identifiable,” the mayor declared.
He clarified that the ban would not be aimed at any specific religious belief, but at anyone wearing an item of clothing obscuring the face, such as a helmet or balaclava.
However Barcelona’s right-wing opposition leader Alberto Fernandez said the measure was half-baked.
“The municipal decree is a half measure as if you ban the burka and the niqab in institutional buildings, you must also ban it in the streets,” he said.
Similar decrees have already been put in place in the Catalan towns of Lerida and El Vendrell which are home to large immigrant Muslim communities. The Andalusian town of Coin is also about to put in motion legislation which would restrict the wearing of the Islamic veil.
On a national level, the right-wing PP is calling for a bill to be debated in Spain’s upper house.
Representatives of 11 Catalan mosques say they are planning to appeal to the Spanish constitutional court to lift the ban.