Spain: Opinions on Najwa’s hijab

The text is Indonesian, the left picture says ...Indonesian text. It says: left image, wrong clothing, right image, right clothing. Image via Wikipedia

El Mundo reports (background here and here):

In the Calvary street, symbolically related to Christianity, a few meters from the City of Pozuelo de Alarcón, lives the small Muslim community of the town, consisting of between 150 and 200 people. In the street you can find Islamic butcher shops food and booths run by Moroccans, in addition to the small mosque, whose chairman is Mohamed, Najwa’s father, the 16 year-old under the neon lights after she was removed from class for wearing the Islamic veil.

Since ten years ago, the Moroccans have been invading the area because it is the cheapest, but there is no problem with them,” said the clerk in a butcher shop on the street where Najwa’s family live. She has three younger siblings. They live in an old apartment of three rooms in the same street, whose rent costs about 800 euros per month. On the estate where they live -a block of flats with a three-story courtyard-, it’s said that living with them is “very good“, they are people “working“, “very religious“, that “there are no problems (with them).”

The area seems an example of coexistence. Moroccan and Spanish on the street greet each other with a confidence as if they knew each other for a lifetime. “How are you today?” The question is asked by Paqui, an already retired Spanish, to Fatima, his Moroccan neighbor, stuck in the doorway taking the air assisted with a respirator. “Well …“, replies, cocking his head this Moroccan woman who understands that “young Najwa can not wear the veil at school.” “If there are 40 who do not have and one that it has, it’s normal she is not allowed. They have to wear it all or none. When I go to work and I can not wear it, it is the law, it must be respected, “says Fatima, who wears the veil only when she is home. “Not married”, she says, looking as if she needed justification.

Moroccan women in the neighborhood say they most do hijab but “voluntarily”, no one forces them. “This is a matter of religion, we were it because we want, not because of our husbands. “When my daughters want to use it, they will be able to, but I would not force them,” says Zora, who works in the cleaning industry and considers Najaw’s mother, Fatima, as an example of their freedom of choice precisely.

She didn’t do the hijab until she was over 30, when they had their children,” he says. Zora stresses that no one interferes in their decision. “With the hijab, we comply with the Quran. I told them at work I had to wear it and they told me there was no problem,” continues this woman who does not hesitate to support Najwa.

“It does not hurt anyone, she’s a good girl and has received this very bad. She insists on wearing it and that decision must be respected,” said Zora, which comes with several friends to make her purchases in a shop in the street, that despite the presence of Moroccans, has not become  a ‘ghetto’ at all. “We have been offended by the school’s decision because she is well dressed and going well for each school, there are some that go with pants down or broken and everyone can see evern their private parts,” explains the Moroccan who has been living about ten years in Spain.

Well, if those are not well-dressed they should be reminded about the regulations related to dressing.

Not all Muslims think the same in their neighborhood. “Everyone has the freedom to practice their religion, but in this case above that, there are school rules. You can wear the veil outside and remove it when you arrive to school,” says Khatib, who works at a mobile shop and understands the prohibition of the Institute Camilo José Cela. His friend Farid, who works in the area, doesn’t agree with him. “In Morocco we do not try to convince people about Islam or say to Spanish women who can not wear miniskirts,” he says.

No, they just think that speaking about Christianity to a Muslim is terrorism. Muslims could get converted to Christianity, corrupting their pure souls with Western ideas…

Regulations to be met

“It is the policy of the school and there’s nothing more to speak about,” another Moroccan neighbor said laconically. She wears a veil and prefers to remain anonymous. The Spanish neighbors think mostly that the regulations are there to be met. “These are the rules of the school, if women who go to Morocco have to wear the veil, and if they are given here everything as if they were Spanish, they will have to accept the rules,” insists another Spanish merchant of the area.

Meanwhile, Najwa is still at home, “very angry” and “sad” because if she has to change her school in the end, she will “cease to be with their friends,” says Marian, a cousin of the family, very upset with the decision of the institute.

Wasn’t she taking the decision, “whatever the outcome”?

Spanish women are not obliged to wear the hijab when they are in Morocco. It is an unfair decision and although there is a regulation there should be exceptions. Wearing the headscarf is not a fad like wearing a hat,” says Marian, who defines Najwa as “very loving” and “friend of her friends“, who are supporting her in this particular ‘fight’.

So, can I enter a mosque without taking my shoes off, and without converting to Islam? Well, there you go, there should be exceptions. I want to see how a mosque looks like.

“Spanish and Moroccan” her cousin emphazises. She defines Najwa’s decision as if she were a Catholic nun. “It’s like a girl who decides to become a nun and dress like them, who’s going to say no,” she asks.

No, this case is as if a Catholic nun who had obligatory veil wanted to go without it. Catholic nuns are older than this girl and if required to take their veil off (for example to have their photos taken), they do it.

But there is another cause for this rule. Teenagers are used to wear MP3 or even the mobile headphones inside the cups/veils, whatever (see comments). So  most schools have forbidden them to rest assured that every student is paying attention during the class hours and not listening to music or something.

A commenter answers:

  1. In Morocco you cannot eat or smoke in public during Ramadan.
  2. A man and woman cannot go hand in hand by the streets.
  3. A man cannot wear trousers which do not cover his knees.
  4. You cannot enter on the 99% of the mosques (churches are open to everyone at every time…).
  5. Bells cannot ring in the few Christian churches that exist.
  6. The treatment to women is discriminatory.
  7. You can’t use a bikini except on private beaches.
  8. Once you cross the frontier there is no security, regarding your private rights.
  9. Police stops foreigner vehicles to oblige them to pay for false infractions.

Does anyone know if any of the above quotes are true? I will search for them lately but if someone knows about them, please leave the link in comments. reports that the school’s door yesterday’s morning with stickers with the slogan “No to Islamization. No to the mosque” from far-right party Democracia Nacional (really judeophobic and anti-American too):

Najwa’s three companions arrived yesterday at the school. In solidarity with her, they were carrying the symbolic garment, although they took it off when entering the center. By contrast, the exterior wall of the center has appeared full of stickers with the slogan “Stop Islamisation. NO Mosque”. Several students began to remove the stickers, while a cleaning crew of the City of Pozuelo cleaned the wall.

It was 8.20 am when the three schools arrived. Giving their backs to the reporters and with ease faced cameras and reporters who had come to the place. “I give a shit what they have written in those stickers,” noted one of the minors.

The three children reported that Najwa is ‘very bad‘, “nervous” and “crying all day.”I repeat: wasn’t she the one who said she was wearing it whatever happened?

For this reason, their partners will continue the protest “until this changes.” They warned that they abide by the center’s decision but that they do not understandit: “I see no equality here and has been “superunjust”. It’s a religious thing you can not change, “said one of them. Najwa asked them to stop supporting her because she didn’t want them to “have problems” and “sufferings.” But the girls are determined to continue. “We will risk to the end, we are with her,” reiterated today the three of them. ‘Najwa will never take away the veil again”. 

So, they say they want to “risk everything till the end”. But they take off the hijab when entering the school, so they are supporting Najwa for doing something they are not doing themselves. If they were really “risking blablabla”, they will also enter the school’s premises with the hijab on.  My opinion is that they are really feeling like “heroes” fighting against the bad guys of the school… They have watched to many films I think.

A few meters away, the mother of a high school student, Paqui, spoke visibly upset at the situation, her support for the hijab ban. Being with their head unconvered “is the standard of the institute, we should remember that the school is secular public,” emphasized Paqui, while recalling that not long ago the school removed the crucifixes.  

The students don’t have the same views on the subject. “Education should be secular,” said one of them while removing the stickers. Another one, on the other hand, while performing the same task, added that he felt perfectly about the students’ decision to come to class with their heads covered, because it “falls under the freedom of each one.” 

The School Board of the Institute decided yesterday to maintain regulations, by 15 votes in favor and two against. The school management also said that she was not expelled and that she has all her educational needs met. 

A professor and head of studies also spoke to reporters stationed at the door of the center. “We will not discuss the matter again until another proposal is presented. The regulation is correct and has been like that for a long time“says the head of studies regarding the rule prohibiting students to attend class with the head covered. 

The case, far from being closed, threatens to spread to other centers, as friends of Najwa said. The three said that she has not yet decided whether to switch to another center where they allow the use of headscarves.

Esperanza Aguirre. El

Esperanza Aguirre (right), the President of Madrid’s Autonomous Community has spoken on the issue:

The president of the Community of Madrid, Esperanza Aguirre, warned today that the freedom of schools to adjust their standards of living and functioning “cannot in any way be questioned“, freedom which is also “respected and supported by the Regional Government“.

Aguirre has made these statements in reference to the vote that took place yesterday in the School Board of the Institute Camilo Jose Cela Pozuelo de Alarcon, who upheld the rules of the center that prevents the students from wearing any garment covering their heads and, therefore, the Islamic veil too.

The president has never specifically mentioned the controversy, but she wanted to state “loud and clear” that her government “respects the rules and operating instructions given by the cloister and the school board of each school“, approved “within their own management, to ensure peaceful coexistence and the success of the educational project“.

What we can not in any way, as has been done these days, is let people question the freedom of each center to regulate their coexistence,” Aguirre stressed.

She insisted that the schools in the Community “will always have the support” of her government in the defense of the regulations that are passed by the cloisters, according to the Organic Law of Education and the decree that regulates Coexistence inside Madrid.

Other comments on the issue:

The president of the National Catholic Confederation of Catholic Student’s Parents (CONCAPAN), Luis Carbonel, expressed today his “respect” to the decision taken by the School Board of the Institute of Camilo Jose Cela Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid), which ultimately will not change its rules and not allow entry of a Muslim student with a headscarf, so that she must attend another public school in the locality.

Carbonel declared to Servimedia that “the rules must be obeyed by all Spanish and foreign,” and stated that “decisions of a school board must be respected unless they are contrary to the Constitution” and in this case they are not, he added.

He also recalled that schools have the autonomy to decide on its rules of procedure and noted that “immigrants who come here enjoy the same rights, but have to assume the same obligations, and that means accepting our rules.”

Like when we go to their country respect its rules and for example you do not enter a mosque footwear, they also have to be respectful to the rules of the host countries, in this case Spain,” Carbonel said.

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2 comments on “Spain: Opinions on Najwa’s hijab

  1. thank u Claudia..fabulous work and the world needs to know this!

  2. Claudia says:

    Thanks, Angel. But, unfortunately, this is far from ended… Now the parents want to carry on legal actions against the school on discrimination basis. 😦

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