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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Spain: school confirms hijab's prohibition

This is an update on this story:
The Centre's management announced that the Board of Education of the Secondary Education School "Camilo José Cela" has "decided to maintain the internal rules unchanged", according to a statement written by its director, Eduardo de Bergia. The center expelled a student from a Muslim background last week after she attended class with the veil.
Now, the Department of Education of the Community of Madrid announced that, if the child wants to keep going to school with the veil, they will search "immediately" for another one, near the current center, in which they permit her go with the veil according to its internal rules, reported the deparment's official sources.
After an hour and a half meeting, the School Board, formed in addition to the permanent members (director, head teacher and secretary), by representatives of teachers, pupils, parents and administrative staff, decided to leave the article 32 of the regulations which states: "Inside the building it's not allowed to use caps or any other garment that covers the head."
The announcement made by the center just after the meeting, in addition to explaining their position, points out that "most of the students are underage", and that "the center does not have permission from their legal representatives to let them being interviewed or have their pictures taken", following the media expectation that has raised the case and that has caused journalists crammed into the gates of the Secondary School from early in the morning.
One of the members of the School Council, the Councillor for Education from Pozuelo de Alarcon, Maria Jesus Castillo, told the media present when the meeting was over, that the vote had been "secret" and that at all times "the autonomy of center has been respected".
Thus, the 16-year-old, who is unable to attend class since last week, has to make a decision. So, she could be changed to a center at 300 meters from its present one or abandon the Islamic hijab and stay in her current class with her colleagues.
As educational sources explained, the first option would be considered if the schoolgirl, as noted in recent days, maintains her stance of wanting to study at the center with his head covered. In this case, the Department of Education has offered another Secondary School not far from where she is studying. 
Indeed, the Councillor for Education, who is also chairman of the School Board raised the possibility of her going to the Secondary School San Juan de la Cruz, located on the street with the same name, near the Camilo José Cela. This center, unlike the IES Camilo José Cela, doesn't have any rule that ban students to attend classes with their heads covered (whatever it's a hat, scarf or hood, for example), so there would be no problem for her to be enrolled immediately, even at mid-year.
Another option is that the student eventually resigns to go to class without a veil, as she has done so far, to remain in her school. By now, as today explained the father, the child is receiving counseling for "depression" and it is unclear what decision she will take.
Meanwhile, Spanish Minister of Education, Ángel Gabilondo has supported the banning of crucifixes and the admittance of hijabs, because the latter "doesn't offend to anyone". A minister of the self-called "more feminist Government of the Spanish history" is not offended by a symbol of masculine dominance over the women. ABC continues:
The Education Minister, Angel Gabilondo, supported today the school attendance of girls expelled from the Secondary School Camilo José Cela in Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid) because of having their head covered with the Islamic "hijab" because in his opinion the right to education "is above every one else in this matter".
In statements given to the media after attending the delivery of the master scholarships of the Spanish Social financial entity "la Caixa", Gabilondo said that "each person's right to their own image, freedom of religion and, mainly, the right to education, are above this controversy". "I support the children's right to attend class," he said.
Regarding the possibility that the future Religious Freedom Act will be governing these aspects, the minister said that "one can not compare the identification of a group in a secular society, as established by the Constitution, with a particular and personal measure." "The law is not going to get into these things," settled.
The minister's opinion conflicts with the views expressed by those responsible for Education in the Community of Madrid. If at first, the Department's Chief, Lucia Figar, merely stated that the Regional Executive respected the internal rules of this morning, Francisco Granados has raised the tone. Granados, Chief of Interior, Presidence and Justice of the Community, said that parents who want their daughters wear the veil will have to choose schools in which hijabs are allowed and added that the Community is against the use of this garment ."We believe it is an element of differentiation and discrimination is wrong to encourage."
Also mentioned this controversy the Ombudsman for Children, Arthur Canalda, which has recommended the institute responsible for addressing this issue from "a human point of view." Canalda understands that regarding the current legislation, one has to be lenient with the "hijab". "Either it's a free issue or the veil is changed" he said. The Ombudsman has tried to get away from the general debate and has recommended to meet "the personal situation of these girls."

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2 comments:

MK said...

It'll be interesting to see how long they manage to hold out against the muslims though.

Claudia said...

For the moment, at least they have not caved in. As the Community of Madrid is the responsible for Education in its territory, and have already supported the school's stance, I believe that this is somewhat definitive.

Of course, as they are politicians, I don't trust them much...

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