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Towns cannot outlaw burqa, says ruling

Court says municipal governments do not have the authority to "limit religious freedom"

The Supreme Court has ruled that municipalities cannot pass laws that limit or prohibit the wearing of burqas. In a February 14 decision released on Thursday, the court said that municipal governments do not have the authority to "limit religious freedom."

Nevertheless, the justices explained that the decision does not answer whether the Spanish government can pass a national law - as in France and Belgium - to outlaw the burqa or similar Islamic coverings.

The ruling stems from a case involving officials in Lleida, who passed a burqa ban in 2010. The Watani for Freedom immigrant group appealed the law to the Catalonia regional High Court, which sided with the Lleida municipality. About a dozen municipalities have introduced similar ordinances.

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