Spain: Oral Statement on the banning of the use of the Burqa and full-face veils by the local councils

Spanish Flag [photo: barringtonhigh.org]
Spanish Flag [photo: barringtonhigh.org]

21st September 2010

Human Rights Council.
15th Session.
Agenda item 6. UPR Country –Spain

Individual Oral Statement- Islamic Human Rights Commission.

Mr. President

The Islamic Human Rights Commission would like to highlight their concern with the conduct of the Spanish government by allowing their local councils to regulate the dress code of their Muslim women citizens by banning the use of the Burqa and full-face veils in all non religious places or events, and any other garment that hides the face. This is not only a discrimination against these women but a clear attempt to drive them out of society.

Furthermore, in allowing Spain’s local councils to regulate the use of the Burqa and Face veil, it gives them free rein to target Muslims and attack democratic rights, without Congress intervening in the matter. This unconstructive rule has already started in places such as Barcelona, where the garments have been prohibited in all public spaces. Muslims feel that the Spanish authorities are hiding behind the rhetoric of security to pursue their Islamophobic policies.

Since there is no causal link between security risks and a woman wearing the Burqa and Face veil, the ban is baseless. The European Court of Human Rights states the right to freedom of expression includes forms of expression “that offend, shock or disturb the state or any section of the population”. Therefore regardless of negative public opinion, these local authorities have not presented sufficient reasoning to ban the Burqa and Face veil.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission is alarmed by the widespread anti Islamic rhetoric of various European governments that are now translating into policy, and fears that hate crime will be on the rise as a result. This prejudice against Muslim women is a violation of their human rights and will most certainly cause social tensions. We request Spain to lift the ban and take necessary measures to safeguard the religious rights of their Muslim citizens.

Thank you Mr. President