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'The Times' questions Barcelona's liberal spirit for banning burqa in municipal buildings

The UK conservative newspaper has issued an article judging the ban Barcelona's Town Hall has issued on full-face veils in municipal buildings as a contradiction to the city's liberal image. According to 'The Times', the ban on the burqa and the niqab doe

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22 June 2010 12:32 AM

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ACN / Gaspar Pericay Coll

London (CNA).- Last week the Barcelona City Hall decided to ban access to municipal buildings to people not showing their faces, which includes woman wearing full-face veils. The ban is not applicable to other Muslim veils or to woman wearing burqas on the street. The ban also denies access to people wearing helmets or any type of clothing or accessory that hides the face. Barcelona is the third municipality to adopt this measure but the first big city in Catalonia and Spain. \u2018The Times\u2019 thinks that this action may damage Barcelona\u2019s liberal image.


\u2018The Times\u2019 correspondent in Spain, Graham Keeley, has signed an article underlining the banning of full-face veils in closed public municipal buildings as a contradiction. Almost all the quotations in the article are, on one hand, from male Muslims coming out from a mosque in Barcelona and, on the other, an Extreme-Right xenophobic party that has no representation in the Barcelona City Hall and has only a marginal representation in 2 medium-sized towns in Catalonia. \u2018The Times\u2019 correspondent in Spain, Graham Keeley, has signed an article underlining the banning of full-face veils in closed public municipal buildings as a contradiction. Almost all the quotations in the article are, on one hand, from male Muslims coming out from a mosque in Barcelona and, on the other, an Extreme-Right xenophobic party that has no representation in the Barcelona City Hall and has only a marginal representation in 2 medium-sized towns in Catalonia.

The article\u2019s thesis is that with this ban, the situation of Muslim woman will be worse, that it does not respect the freedom of Muslim woman and, thus, it goes against the image of being one of the most liberal cities in Europe. The text says that Muslims living in Barcelona are surprised by the measure and that it may be seen as an offense against Islam. Some of them even say that this may cause some woman to not be able to go out of their houses. The article says that pedestrians have sometimes a surprised and even an outspoken attitude against woman with a burqa. However, the article barely talks about Human Rights, as it fails to provide an argument concerning this matter. Neither does it mention the increase of radical branches of Islam in Catalonia, such as the Salafist branch.


Catalonia has the biggest Muslim community in Spain, with more than 300,000 people, out of a population of 7 million. Many of them have arrived in a very recent period of time, in less than 10 years, especially the non-Moroccan communities. There are not trustworthy statistics on the number of woman wearing burqas and niqabs in Catalonia or Barcelona, but in any case, the number would be much lower than in other European cities with a great Muslim population, such as London or Paris. The ban does not affect other Muslim veils. It does not ban the burqa or the niqab on public streets. The ban only affects burqas and niqabs in municipal buildings. The official reason has been the need to see a person\u2019s full face when entering a municipal building for security reasons.

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  • Two women with niqab in Marseille, France

  • Two women with niqab in Marseille, France