On something of a technicality. As the story below describes, the vote did not go off without a hitch. Nevertheless, a number of communities in the region have taken up the issue on the municipal level, including Barcelona, and the Spanish senate has approved a ban. “Catalonian parliament rejects burqa ban,” from Agence France-Presse, July 1:
BARCELONA — Catalonia’s parliament rejected Thursday a move to ban the wearing of the Islamic burqa in public places across the Spanish region after reversing an initial vote.
A resolution moved by conservatives and centre-right nationalists was passed, but opponents said there had been a technical error and some absentees at the moment of the vote.
After the session was suspended, the parliamentary speaker ordered the vote to be put again, prompting a walk-out by the motion’s supporters and a victory for its left-wing opponents.
The motion would have called on the government of the northeastern region to ban the Islamic women’s garment which conceals all but the eyes, in the street as well as in public buildings.
Right-wing deputy Rafael Lopez said it was a question of values, of voicing opposition to clothing which he said kept women in a “degrading prison.”
Left-wingers said they did not approve the wearing of the burqa but called the motion politically-motivated with regional elections coming up this year.
So, politics matter more than principles?
Nine municipalities in Catalonia, including Barcelona, have banned the use of face-covering Islamic veils in public or are considering doing so.
Human rights group Amnesty International had called on the Catalan deputies to reject the motion.
“Any wide-ranging ban will violate the rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to wear a full-face veil as an expression of their identity or beliefs,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s expert on discrimination in Europe.
“Women should be free to choose what and what not to wear. This is their right under international human rights law.”
While you’re at it, tell that to Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan. And while you’re at it, tell it to the women who have been harassed, threatened, raped, and subjected to beatings and honor killings in the Muslim world for choosing not to wear the veil, or for not veiling enough. Or are those countries “more equal than others” in being allowed to state the norms of behavior for their societies?
Spain’s upper house of parliament last week approved a motion calling on Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s Socialist government to ban the Islamic veil in public.
Earlier this month Justice Minister Francisco Caamano said the government planned to restrict the wearing of the veils in public places under a proposed new law on religious freedom.
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.