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City to ban burqas in public buildings

MADRID l Barcelona is to become the first major Spanish city to bar the use of face-covering Islamic veils in municipal buildings.

City Mayor Jordi Hereu announced the measure Monday but insisted it was not specifically religious. He says it is aimed at all dress that impedes identification, and includes motorcycle helmets and ski masks.

Lleida, also in the Spanish region of Catalonia, last month became the first Spanish city to regulate use of body-covering burqas or face-covering niqab garments.

Authorities in several European countries have been debating regulating the use of burqas in recent months.

Barcelona Town Hall said the measure was largely symbolic, given that it is unusual to see women wearing burqas or niqabs in the city, which has a population of 1.5 million.


World Cup marred by pay protest

DURBAN l A protest over stewards’ pay gave World Cup organizers a twin headache on Monday as they announced the ear-splitting vuvuzela trumpets were here to stay.

After a triumphant opening confounded skepticism about South Africa’s ability to host the World Cup, FIFA had to confront the first major unrest of the tournament after Germany’s 4-0 win over Australia in Durban.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up a protest. It broke out in the early hours when an estimated 400 stadium staffers protestied what they said was a pay cut from 250 rand ($33) to 190 rand per day.

“They were unhappy about the wages they were getting from their employers, so they started getting unruly,” police spokeswoman Phindile Radebe told Agence France-Presse.

Police broke up the initial protest outside the stadium, but about 200 continued protesting on a nearby street, where rubber bullets and stun grenades were fired to break up the demonstration, she said.

“No one has been arrested so far,” Mr. Radebe said.

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