14 June 2012
Álava has yet to achieve the formation of an Islamic religion class even though there is an increasing demand from prospective students. Schools in the region do not have teachers for this course, a question that the Islamic community blames the Basque Government for, since they have high requisites for the admission of new teachers.
The Union of Islamic Communities of the Basque Country, calls for more flexible requirements. They explain that the implementation of Muslims in Euskadi/Basque Country is a “relatively recent” phenomenon so there are people who have not yet a recognized qualification in Teaching. As a result, and despite the significant increase in demand from families who want their children to learn the Koran in school, “the whole process is stopped.”
In view of the complexity that is taking place to incorporate this subject into formal education, the consulate of Morocco has organized extra Koran classes in some cultural centers with the assistance of the City Hall authorities.
On Friday 27 a Salafist congress was opened in Sestao (Vizcaya, Basque Country). Around 2000 people have attended it, many of them from Senegal and Morocco. The Congress has been closed on Sunday. As in previous years, the congress hosted spiritual leaders of Europe and the Middle East. A total of 6 sheikhs from Belgium, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, were responsible for providing conferences and meetings.
The nearly 24 mosques that currently exist in the Basque country are insufficient to meet the needs of a growing Muslim population. Adding to the well-known difficulty in getting the necessary permits to open new places of worship, the Muslim communities are now faced with being a peon at the onset of municipal election campaigns. The attempt of mediation by some neighbourhood associations so as to achieve consensus between City Council proposals, Muslim communities and angry neighbours has been unsuccessful, but it becomes even more difficult as the Popular Party takes any opportunity to accuse the current government of not providing the positive and necessary answers to neighbourhood associations (read Spanish and Catholic).
Twenty four Islamic associations have founded an Islamic Council in the Basque Country on 8th of December. The Council has the aim to represent the Islamic communities and to be a unique interlocutor with the regional government. The Muslim Basque Council is open to all cultural, political and religious associations mainly composed by Muslims and which work for the normalization of the Islam in the Basque society. Currently, the Council is composed by Muslims from countries as Morocco and Algeria, but also seek to represent Muslims from Senegal, Pakistan and other nationalities.
Two reports elaborated by the Parent-Teacher Association of a public school in Álava (in the Basque Country) try to show how migrant parents feel about their relationship with the school administration. Among the difficulties put forward by the parents are: the access to specific information about the composition of the food provided to the children at the school cafeteria, the possibility to adapt the children’s school vacation to the Muslim holidays, and the idiomatic problems that Arabic-speaking students face when arriving at a region where the dominant language at school is the Euskera. Still, the reports are positive as they refer to a 60% of schools in the Northern region offering a Muslim appropriate diet to their students and an open dialogue between parents and the schools administrations.