MADRID - A Spanish court has overturned a city's ban on wearing face-veils in municipal buildings, saying it infringes religious liberties, Reuters reported on Friday, March 1.
The ban could increase discrimination, rather than help eliminate it, as it may force some women to stay at home and therefore not integrate at all into Spanish society, Reuters cited the ruling issued by Spain's Supreme Court on February 14 and released last Thursday.
The decision overturns and earlier ban imposed on wearing full face-veil in the city of Lleida three years ago.
The ban was imposed following debates that immigrants would struggle to integrate if they used the veil.
The city also said the custom would disturb the local culture and create security problems.
The Lleida ban was considered largely symbolic as only a small per cent of the town's 120,000 population are Muslims and only 20 women don full-face.
Barcelona and other cities in Catalonia followed with similar bans on full-face veils, which are rarely seen in Spain.
In El Vendrell and in Reus (both in the province of Tarragona), the Catalonian nationalist party ConvergÃ¨ncia I UniÃ³ (CIU) has called for the banning of the burqa and the niqab.
In Tarragona, the Popular Party has said that it will also promote a similar initiative.
In TÃ¡rrega and Cervera (both in the province of Lleida), similar initiatives were adopted.
Spain has a Muslim minority of 1.4 million, making up about 3 percent of the country's population, according to the Islamic Commission of Spain.
Islam is the second religion in Spain after Christianity and has been recognized through the 1967 law of religious freedom.
While hijab is an obligatory code of dress for Muslim women, the majority of Muslim scholars agree that a woman is not obliged to wear the face veil.
Scholars believe it is up to women to decide whether to take on the veil or burqa, a loose outfit covering the whole body from head to toe and wore by some Muslim women.