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Catalonia set to ban the burqa, again

Catalonia set to ban the burqa, again

Categories: Latest News

Friday July 18 2014

The Daily Mail and Islamophobia Watch cover the report in The Local revealing Spain’s regional government in Catalonia will introduce a burqa ban following the European Court ruling earlier this month supporting France’s ban.

A ban was initially proposed in Catalonia in 2010 however, the Spanish Supreme Court overturned the ban in February 2013 on the grounds that the local authorities lacked competencies to legislate on fundamental rights and because the ban contravened human rights protected by international conventions.

As the EU ruling has set a legal precedent, the Interior Minister for Catalonia, Ramon Espadaler, announced that the government would begin the process of getting approval for the ban in the regional parliament after the summer recess.

According to the Local, Espadaler further expressed that the EU ruling on the French ban “opened up a “new perspective” on the proposed law in Catalonia”.

He added the Spanish region can now move ahead to legislate against face covering both from a human rights perspective as well as from a safety angle.

While many human rights organisations have criticised the ruling for disregarding human rights, it is also noteworthy that the European Court had rejected the claim that the French ban was justified on security grounds. The ECHR concluded that security purposes can be “attained by a mere obligation to show their face and to identify themselves where a risk for the safety of persons and property has been established… It cannot therefore be found that the blanket ban imposed by the Law of 11 October 2010 is necessary, in a democratic society, for public safety”.

The Local observes that like most of the rest of Spain, and indeed most European countries, both the niqab and burqa are not commonly worn in Catalonia with the newspaper noting the garments are “rarely seen” in Catalonia.

The Daily Mail repeats its report from earlier this month in which it noted the prospect of Austria, Norway and Denmark pursuing niqab bans following the ruling in favour of France.

The Court ruling is also likely to see revived calls for a blanket ban in the UK. Tory MP Philip Hollobone, has used the ECHR decision to bolster his campaign for his private members bill on Face Coverings saying “Finally, at long last, we have had a sensible decision from the European Court of Human Rights about something.

“We will never have a fully functioning, fully integrated multi-cultural society if growing numbers of our citizens go around with their faces covered.”

While advocates for state bans on female dress have taken umbrage behind the ECHR ruling, human rights advocates have expressed deep alarm at the Court’s reasoning in support of the French state arguing the concept of ‘living together’, the basis on which the ban was defended, is not based on any legal concept and ushers in a dangerous precedent of majority tyranny. A view shared by the two dissenting judges on the Court.


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