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Spanish Muslims respond to burkha ban

Fri 13th Aug 2010

The Islamic community in Lleida have presented a number of formal complaints to the city council with regards to its decision to ban the burkha in public buildings.

The Watani Association for Freedom and Justice has stated that if the Ayuntamiento does not address their complaints, they will take the matter to the court.

Head of the association, Mourad El-Boudouhi, says the city council 'does not have the legal right' to impose such a ban and that there is no higher law applicable in either the region or the country allowing them to do so.

El-Boudouhi says it is a 'violation of freedom of religion', a freedom that is contained in the Spanish Constitution, and therefore a breach of human rights as well as discrimination.

The association says the city council is discriminating against women and curtailing their rights.

"Nobody has the right to speak for, or decide for, these women" stresses El-Boudouhi.

He says the solution would be for those women who choose to wear a burkha to be asked to uncover their faces to identify themselves upon entering public buildings, and then be permitted to put their burkha back on if they wish.

"We would also say that women can be refused entry if they refuse to take off their burkha merely to identify themselves, but do not agree that they should be fined" said El-Boudouhi.

Lleida city council has announced women entering public buildings will be fined up to 600 euros for wearing a burkha.

The Watani association has also complained about the council's refusal to build a mosque after the existing one was shut because of overcrowding. "We fulfil our obligations to the city, we pay our taxes and respect its laws, so we ask that they respect us" said its representative.

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