For the first time, a large Spanish city announced a ban on the wearing of full Islamic face-veils in some public spaces.
Officials in Barcelona said that the ban was designed to include any head-wear that hindered identification. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
At least two towns in Catalonia, the region that includes Barcelona, have already announced bans.
Recently, both Belgium and France have taken steps towards restricting the use of full veils in public.
As it is uncommon to see women in Barcelona wearing the full veil, the city council said the ban would be largely symbolic.
“Barcelona will forbid the use of the burqa, niqab and any other item which hinders personal identification in any of the city’s public installations,” a council statement said.
The ban would cover public spaces such as municipal offices, public markets and libraries – but not the streets.
The measure aims purely at ensuring people could be identified, said the mayor of Barcelona, Jordi Hereu. Therefore the ban would include balaclavas, motorbike helmets and ski masks.
“In no way does it target religious belief,” he said.
The ban is scheduled to take effect in Barcelona after the summer.
The Conservative Popular Party (PP) called for the ban to be extended to all public places, including on the street.
Full veils have already been banned in public spaces in the Catalan towns of Lleida and El Vendrell. Others are reported to be considering similar measures.