Barcelona Council to ban burka and niqab in public buildings
Barcelona is to become the first major Spanish city to ban the use of the ‘burka’ and the ‘niqab’ (a type of veil covering the face and the body used by Islamic women) in public buildings.
The decree banning their use will mean that everybody entering a public building will need to identify themselves clearly. It will also affect people wearing balaclavas and motorbike helmets. It is expected that the ban will come into effect after the summer.
The announcement was made in a press conference following a meeting of the immigration committee. The decree states that while the town hall does not have the power to ban the use of the burka in the street it does have the jurisdiction to ban its use in public buildings run by the town hall such as libraries, civic centres, markets and nurseries.
The mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu, defended the measure saying that it was both for ‘security’ and ‘common sense’.
He also stressed that it was not intended as an attack on any religious beliefs.
ICV-EUiA, do not support the ban while the PP are in favour of banning the use of the burka in the street. On the other hand ERC do not agree with the formula favoured by Hereu.
Hereu said that the Catalan capital had to take on the same issues as those tackled by other town councils and is doing this from a completely preventative perspective. He added that the city of Barcelona should establish clear guidelines on the matter.
According to Hereu, two conclusions can be drawn from the 34 page report that has been compiled on this issue: the first is that the town hall does not have the power to regulate the use of the burka in the street and the second is that it does have the right to regulate its use in public buildings.
Hereu also supports the regulation of the use of the burka by the Catalan regional government and by the state.
Hereu believes that an educative process should be carried out so that people come to fully comprehend the decision. He also favours public debate on the issue.