Hijab Debate Alarms Spanish Muslims


Junior Member
Hijab Debate Alarms Spanish Muslims

By Al-Amin Andalusi, IOL Correspondent

The Spanish government has called for a debate on the wearing of religious insignia in public places.
MADRID — The Spanish government's decision to debate the issue of religious symbols, including hijab, in public institutions has sent shockwaves through the sizable Muslim minority fearing a repeat of the French nightmare.

"Muslims oppose any restrictions on religious freedoms and demand respect for symbols that reflect religious identities," the Federation of Islamic religious entities (FEERI), said in a statement obtained by IslamOnline.net.

The government has earlier this week announced intention to launch a debate on the wearing of religious insignia in public institutions.

"The government should not follow the footsteps of some European governments to ban hijab in public places," said FEERI Chairman Abdel-Salam Mansour Escudero.

France has triggered a controversy in 2004 by adopting a bill banning hijab in state schools.

Escudero warned that any government ban on hijab would be a "restriction of personal freedoms".

"It is unacceptable to restrict the civil liberties of individuals who have the right to express their religious beliefs by wearing whatever they wish," he told the ABC newspaper.

Spain has a Muslim minority of about 800,000 people out of a total population of 40 million.

FEERI said it agrees to engage the debate on the wearing of religious insignia.

"This is to prove that Muslims are keen to integrate into society," added the statement.

The Muslim union called for maintaining the "tolerant" atmosphere enjoyed by the Muslim minority in Spain.

A government study found on Thursday, November 23, that the majority of Spanish Muslims were well integrated into society and share Spanish values of freedom and tolerance.

It showed that the majority of them found no obstacles in Spain when it came to practicing their religion.

The southern European country has recognized Islam through the law of religious freedom, issued in July 1967.

The government's proposal has drawn backing from Christian and Jewish community leaders.

The Catholic Church backs a ban on hijab in public places as a symbol of women oppression.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.