Senate demands that Spanish Government ban the burqa in public spaces

The Spanish Senate has approved a new motion to prohibit the use of full-face veils such as the burqa or niqab in public spaces. The ban has no immediate effect, but puts the burqa debate on the political agenda and also puts pressure on the Spanish Gover

CNA /Sarah Garrahan

June 24, 2010 12:12 AM

Madrid (CNA).- The Spanish Senate has demanded that the Spanish Government prohibit the use of the burqa and the niqab in public spaces. A proposed motion by Alícia Sánchez-Camacho of the People’s Party (PP) has been approved by just two votes, 131 to 129. Surprisingly, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU) has voted in favour of the motion, while the day before they had agreed with the ruling Socialist Party (PSOE) to not support it. It can be interpretated as an electoral move by the Right-Wing parties.


The bans on the use of burqa and niqab in municipal buildings that some Catalan cities and towns are approving is having an echo at the Spanish level. Cities such as Barcelona, Lleida, and L’Hospitalet have passed legislation on the burqa. The Spanish Government has been trying to avoid this debate at a state level, but today the People’s Party (PP) and CiU have obliged Prime Minister Zapatero to take a clear position. The initiative has been pushed by the Catalan leader of the People’s Party and candidate for President of Catalonia, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho. It has also received last minute support from the CiU. Many commentators have interpreted this move as a tactic move for next autumn’s elections in Catalonia, as the burqa has dominated recent debates.

The Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), the Catalan Eco-Socialist Party (ICV), who all rule in the Catalan Government, and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) all voted against the proposal. The PP, the Navarra People’s Union (UPN) and the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Party (CiU) voted in favour of the ban. In fact, the CiU presented an amendment along with the PSOE assuring the “necessary means to respond to the prohibition of the full-face veil”. On Monday the CiU is planning to push a motion to prohibit the use of the burqa or the niqab in public spaces under the law of equality. While the motion has been approved by the Senate, it now awaits a response from the Spanish Government. The motion however has no immediate effect and the ban might never be approved by the Government and the Spanish Parliament.