jueves, 5 de agosto de 2010

Bullfights and the Land of the Ban


I don't like bullfights. I simply cannot understand the Spanish "Fiesta Nacional". I feel sorry both for the torero and for the bull. And I am firmly convinced that bullfights will disappear in the long term. However, the Catalonian bullfight banning has came out to be some sort of childish reaction to the Constitutional Court decision on the new Regional High Law for Catalonia (despite the fact that the banning and the CC decision are totally different issues).

What is true, though, is that from the outside Catalonia is becoming the Land of the Ban (see The Economist): banning bullfights, banning burqas...

And I would like to draw your attention to something less known: submitting places of worship to an special opening license: Regional Decree 94/2010 in developing Regional Law 16/2009 regulates a special license for worship centers in Articles 21 to 29. Arguably a zoning license seems to be important to guarantee basic conditions (safety, noise, capability, etc) in using any place --a place of worship too. However, all this could be guaranteed through common legal instruments (namely zoning laws in general) without singling out religious individual or collective activities. Furthermore, several Court decisions in Spain have stressed that zoning laws cannot be used to submit to special conditions the freedom of religion of individuals or communities.

Let's also note that the Preamble of the Regional Decree states that: "Article 9 of the Act provides for a municipal license for opening and using places of worship whose aim is not, under any circumstances, to submit the religious activity as such to any authorization or permission ..." Well, "where there’s smoke, there’s fire", or if you prefer "excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta".

Why then a special regulation for centers of worship? Though the regulation does not mention it expressly (the Decree preamble only makes a general reference to "immigration") it seems that Muslim places of worship is the "real thing" in all this.

The new regulation, in my opinion, could be used for good or for evil, to require from intolerant Local Councils to let Muslim places of worship in their boundaries, but also to control Muslim activities indirectly. Even it would not be illusory to envisage a scenario in which Pope Benedict XVI cannot inaugurate the Temple of "La Sagrada Familia" next November in absence of religious opening license... Let's see what happen with this new regulation.

Music for this post: "El Gato Montés" (Pasodoble, music for bullfights) and "I hate Pasodobles" (a Spanish rock song).

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