Spain to debate ban on public burkas

Head-covering veils would not be included in the ban.

burqa afghanistan 311 (photo credit: AP)
burqa afghanistan 311
(photo credit: AP)
MADRID - Spanish lawmakers will debate barring burkas in public, joining other European countries considering similar moves on the grounds that the body-covering garments are degrading to women, the leading opposition party said Sunday.
Top officials of the ruling Socialist Party have indicated they will support the proposal by the opposition Popular Party, making a ban likely unless the country's highest court rules it unconstitutional.
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A debate in Spain's lower house has been set by the Popular Party for Tuesday or Wednesday, the party said. No vote will be scheduled until after the debate, and Spain's Parliament usually goes on vacation for a month starting in late July or early August.
Justice Minister Francisco Caamano said on June 15 that garments like the burka are "hardly compatible with human dignity."
Head-covering veils would not be included in a ban as they form a part of traditional Spanish dress, with women often covering their heads with a garment called a mantilla, especially during church services in the south of the country.
Barcelona, Spain's second-largest city, banned the use of burkas and niqabs in municipal buildings in June, joining a handful of small towns and cities nearby that have taken similar steps.
Mansur Escudero, spokesman for Spain's Islamic Commission, said in June that there is no religious mandate for Muslim women to wear burkas and the garment was "extravagant," but criticized government efforts to ban the outfit because he said women should be able to exercise free choice in how they dress.
Spain has about one million Muslims in the nation of 47 million, with most living in the northeastern region of Catalonia and the southern region Andalucia. However, burkas are rarely seen.