The Catalan town of Lleida is to vote tomorrow on whether to outlaw the full veils worn by some Muslim women in certain public areas, a move which would make it the first in Spain to take such a decision (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). The prohibition on the burqa and niqab would apply to municipal buildings and spaces but wouldn’t affect public thoroughfares; the restrictions have been based on recommendations from the council’s legal services department in a report commissioned by the mayor, socialist Àngel Ros, into what limitations would be possible without contravening human rights legislation. Those spaces where the ban would apply include markets and civic, sporting, cultural and educational centres. The mayor said that the measure was justifiable due to “inescapable” values such as gender equality and respect for women; the motion is due to be voted on tomorrow by council members. It is thought that some 20 women wear either the niqab or burqa in Lleida, although representatives from the Islamic community in the area say that it is only about 12. A spokesman for this group, Abdul Karim, said yesterday that they would appeal against the council’s decision before the Constitutional Court if it is passed; speaking to El Periodico, Karim added that if the burka or niqab were banned, then the same had to be done with nun’s habits or the outfits worn by some priests.
Outgoing FC Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, has called on one of the candidates to replace him, Sandro Rosell, to clarify the situation regarding his role in an alleged corruption case in Brazil (read article in Catalan here, Avui). Rosell, previously a vice-president in the board led by Laporta until the two had a falling-out some years ago, is currently the strong favourite to take over as Barça president in elections to be held on June 13th. However, allegations have arisen in the past couple of days that one of Rosell’s companies has been implicated in a corruption case that is being investigated by legal authorities in Brazil. One of the other candidates in the presidential campaign, Marc Ingla, said on Catalan television earlier this week that Rosell was involved in the corruption case, a claim that Rosell later rejected, saying that he would be seeking legal advice about the false claims. However, Laporta has now waded into the matter saying that “I think that Mr Rosell has to provide explanations, because this is serious.” He added that the members of Barça deserve clarification from Rosell so that they have all the necessary information when it comes to placing their vote.
Fifty-eight percent of Spaniards believe that the proposed austerity measures are necessary, according to a survey carried out on behalf of El Periodico (read article in Castilian here, El Periodico). When asked if they believed that the type of measures put forward by prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero had to be taken, 58.2 percent of those taking part in the poll said yes, with just 32.5 percent answering no. This contrasted with the 50.2 percent who said they were actually against the plan of spending cuts approved this week by the cabinet and which is due to be debated today in the Spanish Congress (see link below). In Catalunya, 53 percent of those questioned were against the austerity plans, while in the Madrid community, it was 57.5 percent. However, when questions were asked about the specific plans put forward by Zapatero, there was greater discrepancy in what those questioned thought. Almost three quarters of the people who took part in the survey were against the freezing of pensions in 2011, whereas a slim majority (55.3 percent) was in favour of getting rid of the so-called cheque bébé of €2,500 paid to parents on the birth of a new baby, and a similar number favoured the cutting of salaries to public sector workers by an average of five percent (52.5 percent).
Also in the news: Spanish Congress due to vote today on Socialist’s austerity plans in what is expected to be tight contest (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Real Madrid sack Manuel Pellegrini and hope to recruit José Mourinho as manager if he can reach agreement with current employer Inter Milan (read full article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia); Man arrested in Barcelona accused of impersonating a gas metre inspector as a way of robbing flats (read full article in Catalan here, Avui).