Spanish region of Catalonia to implement burka ban

The EU human rights court based its decision on a pilot case from France

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A ban on the wearing of burkas - a body-covering cloak worn by some Muslim women - is to be put into effect by the government of the Spanish autonomous region of Catalonia in the wake of the European Court of Human Rights decree that its ban does not breach human rights laws.

Catalonia’s interior minister, Ramon Espadaler, said that the ban, first recommended in 2013, was by no means an attack on religious freedom as the wearing of helmets and masks in public will also be forbidden.


Espadaler announced that the Catalan government intended to get the ban ratified after the summer 2014 recess, Spanish daily The Local reported on Thursday.

The ECHR based its decision on a pilot case from France, when a Muslim woman was no longer permitted to wear in public the burka, which covers the whole body, or the full-face niqab veil, because a new French law forbids the covering up of the face in public places.

She protested that the new law, which was introduced in April 2011, impinged on the European Convention on Human Rights because it translated to discrimination on grounds of sex, religion and ethnic origin.

However the European Court ruled that fostering respect for the conditions in which people “live together” in public places was a legitimate reason qualifying the ban and did not violate the convention.

Following the ruling, Austria, Norway and Denmark may also ban the burka.

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