Court suspends Spanish city's ban on face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings

Madrid, Spain - A court in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia has suspended a ban by the city of Lleida on face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings.

The Superior Justice Tribunal said Tuesday the ban was suspended while the court studies an appeal lodged by a Muslim association.

Lleida became the first Spanish city to impose the ban in December, arguing that the veils were discriminatory against women.

Other towns, including the Catalan capital Barcelona, have taken similar steps but bans have yet to take effect.

The gesture is largely symbolic, because only about 3 percent of Lleida's population is Muslim and only a handful of women actually wear body-covering burqas or face-covering niqab garments.