MADRID: Spain’s Supreme Court has overturned the city of Lleida’s ban on women wearing full-face veils — such as burqas or niqabs — in public buildings, citing religious freedom and saying the city’s argument of security concerns was unfounded.
In its ruling, dated February 14 and made public yesterday, the court said the ban could increase discrimination, rather than help eliminate it, as it may force some women to stay at home and therefore not integrate at all into Spanish society.
Lleida banned the wearing of full-face veils in public buildings three years ago, about the same time that rules against veils in France and Belgium set off controversy. Spain has no national law on religious garb.
Bulgaria president calls May election
SOFIA: Bulgaria’s president yesterday called for a new political culture that would prevent citizens being “robbed” and “lied to” as he named an election date of May 12 to try to stem a surge of popular discontent.
Prime Minister Boiko Borisov quit last week after nationwide protests against high electricity prices — the final straw to many citizens in the European Union’s poorest country, who have begun to despair of any improvement in living standards or governance.
President Rosen Plevneliev told parliament an interim government, which will probably be appointed next week, would aim for stability by sticking to the 2013 budget, which foresees a deficit of 1.3 percent of GDP, and implementing previous commitments such as a 9 percent increase in pensions from April.
Argentine lawmakers approve Iran deal
BUENOS AIRES: Argentine lawmakers yesterday approved a deal struck with Iran to set up a “truth commission” to investigate a deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre that killed 85 people and wounded 300.
Argentina, home to Latin America’s largest Jewish community, says Iran was behind the attack.
The agreement has been sharply criticized by Israel, Argentina’s Jewish community and opposition politicians.
The pro-government bloc backing President Cristina Kirchner in the Chamber of Deputies secured passage with 131 votes to 113 opposition votes against. The Senate gave its green light last week. The deal sets up an independent “truth commission” to probe the bombing, which the Argentine government says will pave the way for eight Iranian suspects to be questioned by an Argentine judge.
Swiss factory shooting toll rises to four
MENZNAU: One of seven people wounded when a gunman opened fire at a Swiss factory on Wednesday has died, police said yesterday — bringing the death toll to four, including the shooter.
Police in the central region of Lucerne declined to give details on the latest fatality and did not elaborate on the condition of six others injured.
Police have confirmed that the 42-year-old gunman was a longstanding employee of a wood panel plant in Menznau, a community of some 2,600 people near Lucerne.
He had no record of making trouble, police and factory officials said, but workmates quoted by Swiss media said he may have been suffering from mental problems since last year.
S.Africa to probe donkey meat scandal
CAPE TOWN: South Africa has launched an “urgent” investigation into how unlabelled donkey, water buffalo and goat got into meat products sold in supermarkets.
The cabinet requested the probe after reports had created “alarm and panic” after the irregular ingredients were revealed in an university study. “We will probably begin with the retailers themselves,” acting National Consumer Commission commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed told journalists.
Stellenbosch University found that up to 68 percent of 139 meat samples from shops and butcheries had irregular ingredients, with pork and chicken most often substituted for other meat.
Plant matter was also found in the minced meat, burger patties, sausages and deli and dried meat.
AFP & REUTERS