Spanish school expels girl for wearing hijab

Spanish school expels girl for wearing hijab

Europe continues to be embroiled with the veil controversy. This time it was Spain that sparked outrage from Muslim and independent human rights activists after a 16-year-old girl was expelled from her school for violating the school’s dress code by wearing the hijab, which covers one’s hair.

She was later readmitted to the school in the Pozuelo suburb of Madrid, after the country’s education ministry intervened and said article 16 of the Spanish Constitution requires government institutions to respect a person’s religious beliefs.

The girl, of Moroccan descent, has left many Muslims living in Spain worried over what they called the growing conservatism engulfing the country.

“We are definitely scared of what might happen in this country,” began Mahmoud al-Attar, an Egyptian-Spanish duel national who has lived in the European country for over a decade.

“I believe that Europeans are fighting back against the Islamic world through the hijab, which is unfortunate because it is these women and girls that represent the moderate views and the idea of cross-culture that Europe should be embracing,” the 37-year-old Madrid University assistant professor said.

The expulsion and then reinstatement comes less than two weeks after a Belgian Parliamentary committee approved a law that would ban the niqab – the full face covering – to become the first European nation to formally forbid the dress.

For others, including Spanish civil rights activist Maria Horno, the move was a “shock” to the rights community.

“We had thought Spain was moving toward more moderation and acceptance of differences, but this shows there is a tide of anger and hatred fomenting inside the country that must be understood and tackled before we alienate our Muslim brothers and sisters,” she said.

Horno added that Spain is a country that is “struggling with economic problems and maybe people are seeing the Muslims as a threat for some reason. I hope we get our act together and realize we are all in this together.”

For now, Spain has entered the stage of cracking down on Muslim women’s attire, following Belgium and France in their efforts to curtail what a woman is allowed to wear.

**reporting by Ana Rovas in Madrid

Republished with permission from Bikya Masr