Spain's upper house of parliament has called on the government to introduce a ban on wearing the Muslim full-body veil in public, but the governing Socialists have dismissed the move as political point-scoring.
This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog - islamineurope.blogspot.com
The Spanish senate approved a motion on Wednesday urging Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government to ban Islamic full-body veils in public places.
The vote, 131-129, was passed with the support of the conservative Popular Party and two smaller conservative regional parties, the CiU and UPN.
The motion specifically calls for a ban on the niqab, which leaves only the eyes uncovered.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, deputy leader of the Popular Party Maria Dolores de Cospedal called the vote "a very important step in favor of freedom and women's equality."
Zapatero's Spanish Socialist Workers' Party had proposed an alternative text, supported by all other parties in the senate, that called for the government to "collaborate with Muslim communities," work through education and use existing laws to "guarantee the respect of women's dignity."
The Socialists also accused the Popular Party of using the controversial issue for political gain, since the full-body veils are extremely uncommon in Spain.
Source: Deutsche Welle