Not long ago here in Spain, a student named Najwa Malha was kicked out of her math class for wearing a hiyab, an accoutrement of Islam. Subsequently, she will be denied her right to an education if she doesn’t relent to her school’s no hiyab rule instituted and upheld by the Consejo Escolar that “en el interior del edificio no se permitirÃ¡ el uso de gorras ni de ninguna otra prenda que cubra la cabeza.” The group of professors sitting on her school’s education board decided that they would not make an exception in Najwa’s case simply because the ruling might appear insensitive, unpopular and open up future cases towing the line between expressive rights and the order of school rules.
If Najwa wants to return to school, which the Ministro de Educacion stated she has the right to, she will have to remove her headscarf before she steps onto the school’s property.
Naturally, Najwa and her family feel this is discriminatory and I have to agree. The girl is wearing her veil because her Islamic religion states that it is mandatory for a woman to cover her head after a certain age. Furthermore, there is a big difference between her wearing hiyab and another kid wearing a baseball cap to school.
Religious commitment and style choice are not the same thing.
Despite the large Moroccan population, leading outsiders to believe there’s widespread ethnic sensitivity in this country, this case isn’t the first of its kind here in Spain. I get the point about denying exceptions however this rule should be revised because this will not be the last time this issue arises.
Sad to say, even Najwa’s friends who stand behind her right and, ultimately, their rights as practicing Muslims, wore their veils to school but slipped them off of their heads and into their backpacks before crossing onto school property. Najwa will most likely do the same when she gets over the trauma of this situation.
To read the article as it appeared in El Pais, click here.
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