Paramedics take woman to hospital after attackers kick her in the stomach.
A heavily pregnant Muslim woman wearing a veil has been attacked in front of her children in Barcelona in an apparent hate crime.
Investigators said the woman was walking in the Spanish city’s central Old Town area with her husband and children on Monday evening when two men approached.
They started shouting insults over the woman’s niqab – a veil covering the face apart from the eyes – Barcelona police said.
When her husband reproached them for the offensive comments, the two men started pushing him and then launched a physical attack.
“The woman tried to intervene between the aggressors and her partner,” a police spokesperson said. “At that moment, one of the attackers kicked the pregnant woman’s abdomen.”
Passers-by who had seen the altercation jumped in to protect her and waited with the woman, her husband and their two children until police arrived.
The mother-to-be was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital for gynaecological examinations, which found no permanent injury to the woman or her unborn child.
Two men have been arrested on suspicion of hate crime, discrimination and causing bodily harm.
Investigators said the suspects have links to far-right football groups, identified by local media as the Brigadas Blanquiazules, who support the RCD Espanyol football team in Barcelona.
Members were banned from entering its stadium since 2010 and the group has subsequently officially disbanded.
Monday’s incident came amid a reported rise in hate crimes across Europe, where intense debate continued over new “burqa bans” proposed in Germany and the Netherlands, and prohibitions against the burkini in France.
Barcelona banned Islamic veils that fully cover the face, including the burqa and niqab, in 2010 but the law cites reasons of “personal identification” and applies only to public buildings including libraries and council offices.
The city saw the highest number of recorded hate crimes in Spain last year, with 215 incidents reported including xenophobia, homophobia and Islamophobia according to a government report.