Spanish court suspends town's burqa ban

18th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court has suspended a town's ban on wearing the Islamic full-face burqa veil following protests from a Muslim rights association, an official said Tuesday.

Lerida, a Catalan town of 120,000 inhabitants, last month imposed Spain's first ban on wearing the burqa in municipal buildings.

That decision was "provisionally suspended on Monday pending a definitive judicial decision," a spokesman for the Catalan upper court in Barcelona told AFP.

Ten thousand Muslims, half of them Moroccan, are registered residents of Lerida.

Immigration from Muslim countries has grown in Spain since the 1990s, with Catalonia in particular being home to a large community of Pakistani origin.

There are now about one million Muslims among Spain's population of 47 million.

An Islamic group, the Watani association for freedom and justice, had lodged a legal complaint against the Lerida ban, saying that it breached fundamental rights.

The tribunal did not rule on the merits of their case, deciding merely to suspend the burqa ban as it risked preventing some people from gaining access to public places.

© 2011 AFP

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