Catalunya High Court has suspended the ban on the Burkha in public places imposed by Lleida city council in October. The verdict, passed on Tuesday, January 12, says the ban will be lifted until a decision has been made by a judge on the appeal put forward by the Muslim association Watani.
On October 8, 2010, the city council forbade the wearing of not only Burkhas but also other Muslim headgear such as the niqaband the hiyab – which only cover the wearer’s hair – in any public building. This means indoor markets, public transport, community centres and council-owned buildings. When the prohibition came into full effect on December 9, it made Lleida the first town in Spain to have taken such a radical step.
But members of Watani say this is discrimination on religious grounds, since many women choose to wear niqabs and hiyabs, rather than being forced to by their husbands or male relatives. Watani’s lawyer, Carlos Antolí, believes the association has a strong case on these grounds.