Spanish city bans burqas
Madrid - The Spanish city of Lleida on Thursday became the country's first to implement a ban on the wearing of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings.
Lleida, located in the northeastern region of Catalonia, approved the legislation in May, but procedural issues have delayed its implementation.
"I feel proud that Lleida is the first city in Spain to regulate against something that is discriminatory against women," Mayor Angel Ros told state run radio.
The gesture is largely symbolic, because only about 3% of Lleida's population is Muslim, only a handful of whom actually wear body-covering burqas or face-covering niqab garments.
Spain has a population of 47 million, of which about 1 million are Muslim. Most live in Catalonia and the southern region of Andalucia, however burqas are rarely seen publicly.
Other towns, including the Catalan capital Barcelona, have taken similar steps but bans are yet to take effect.
The Spanish government is considering including the ban in a future law covering a variety of religious issues.