Muslim Hijab Situation in Spain's Schools

The use of the Islamic headscarf (hijab) in schools has become increasingly pressing as Spain’s Muslim population has grown rapidly over the past decade, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. The country now has 1.3 million Muslims. The vast majority of them are of Moroccan origin.

The use of the Islamic headscarf (hijab) in schools has become increasingly pressing as Spain’s Muslim population has grown rapidly over the past decade, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported. The country now has 1.3 million Muslims. The vast majority of them are of Moroccan origin.

About 60% of schools in the Madrid region allow pupils to wear the hijab. Others ban all headgear, including the hijab and the baseball cap, which can act as an identifying sign for members of Latin American street gangs.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s government has taken a cautious stance on the issue, calling for tolerance and dialogue. The conservative opposition was slightly more critical, with some of its representatives openly criticizing the hijab as symbolizing the subjugation of women, while others called for a law on the issue. The government is preparing a legal reform to increase the rights of minority religions in predominantly Catholic Spain, but the law is not expected to deal with details such as the hijab. Even if every school will be allowed to set its own rules for the time being, Spaniards are becoming more conscious of the complexity of the hijab issue as the country grapples to come into terms with its new multicultural identity.

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