"The mayoral decree is a half-measure, because as well as forbidding the burqa and niqab in public installations, it is necessary to forbid it on the street," he added.

Face veils are banned in all public spaces in the relatively small towns of Lerida and El Vendrell, which like Barcelona are in the northeastern region of Catalonia in Spain.

But Jordi Hereu, Barcelona's mayor, has resisted calls to impose a ban on full face veils in all public spaces in Spain's second-largest city, which is in a country home to around 1.4 million Muslims, because he said it was outside the jurisdiction of a municipal government.

The ban on face veils is not new in Europe. 

France approved a bill last month to outlaw the wearing of veils in public and Belgium's lower house has also voted in favour of prohibiting the full veil, provoking strong reaction and stoking debate across the continent.