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Burkha ban in Barcelona

Tue 15th Jun 2010

Barcelona city council has followed Lleida's example and banned the use of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings.

The city's mayor Jordi Hereu announced the measure today but insisted that the decision it was not a religious move.

He says it was a matter of "common sense" and "security" that people using municipal buildings should be identifiable and that the same rule applied to the wearing of motorcycle helmets and balaclavas.

Lleida, also in the Spanish region of Catalunya, last month became the first Spanish city to regulate use of body-covering burkas or face-covering niqab garments.

Both in Lleida and Barcelona, the city councils have recognised that they cannot prevent the use of Islamic veils on the street or in public parks, but can do so in the cities' museums, kindergartens, civic centres, social services, libraries, markets and council offices.

Authorities in several other European countries have been debating regulating the use of burkas in recent months.

Barcelona town hall said the measure was largely symbolic given that it is unusual to see women wearing burkas or niqabs in the city, which has a population of 1.5 million.

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