The family of the student prohibited to use the hijab will appeal the Court’s decision

03 April 2013

Najwa Malha’s family, the girl who was forbidden to attend the Camilo Jose Cela school with a headscarf, in 2010, appealed to the Constitutional Court about the decision of the High Court of Justice of Madrid to endorse the decision of the school. The student’s lawyer has insisted that his goal is to prove that her right to religious freedom not respected.

“If they get to the European courts they will rule in favor of the girl”

03April 2013

The president of the Union of Islamic Communities of Spain (UCIDE) Riay Tatary, said that the High Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) rule about the Camilo Jose Cela de Pozuelo de Alarcón school’s decision to prohibit a Muslim student, Najwa Malha, from wearing a headscarf in class,  will be dismissed in the case it goes to European Court of Human Rights. Tatary noted that “we need national dialogue” and a unification of the rules in this domain  and in other matters as “it is not about a girl or a particular garment, but about a fundamental right, the right to religious freedom. “

The Spanish Headscarf and burqa debate

After the Najwa Malha affair and the ban on the burqa and the niqab in Lleida some political and religious actors have fixed their opinions on headscarves.

The Speaker in the European Parliament of the Socialist Party of Spain (PSOE), López Aguilar, compared the hijab to the Catholic nuns’ head covering.

The High School Director involved in the Najwa Malha affair has been signed by the Comunidad De Madrid

The Director of the High School, who expelled from class the girl, Najwa Malha, because she wears headscarf, has been signed as an advisor for the Educational Department in the Autonomous Community of Madrid governed by Partido Popular, the Spanish right wing party.

Hijab debate: A 16 year old is expelled from school for wearing the hijab

In February, 16 year old Muslim Najwa Malha decided, on her own according to the father (president of the Pozuelo Islamic Cultural Center and of the association that holds the local Mosque) to start wearing the headscarf. Nawja is Spanish of Moroccan origin and attends the Instituto Camilo José Cela at the Madrid locality Pozuelo de Alarcón. This week, stating that Article 32 of the schools Internal Regulation prohibits the wearing of provocative clothing and head coverings (a measure put in legal norms to prevent the use of caps and hats in the classrooms), the school board decides to prohibit Najwa of attending class while wearing the headscarf. However the board allowed Najwa to remain inside the school premises although confined to the visiting room. In the following days, as a solidarity gesture, some of her colleagues and friends start attending school with headscarves and hoods covering their heads. Although an extraordinary school board was held to debate Najwa’s return to class (as a consequence of the media pressure) a majority of participants voted against her return with the headscarf, and actions were taken to assure her transfer to a nearby school (Instituto San Juan de la Cruz) that accepts the use of this garment. At present time Najwa has stopped attending school and is confined at home with an anxiety medical situation.

Legal actions taken:
– The family presents a legal complaint to the Consejería de Educación (Comunidad de Madrid). The Consejería supports the schools decision.

Official positions:
– Regional government (Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid), held by the right-wing Popular Party (PP) sustains that the schools autonomy and the power of the school Board to decide its internal rules concerning this and every other matter should prevail.
– National government, held by the left-wing Socialist Party (PSOE), have a dubious position. The Minister of Education has stated that the right to ones own image, the right to religious freedom and the right to an education should prevail over the prohibition to use the headscarf. He also differentiates between the presence of a Christian (Catholic) Cross in a class-room as a collective symbol from the headscarf as a personal symbol. The Minister of Justice, much in the same line, appeals for tolerance. In a discrepant voice the Minister of Equality states the possible negative meaning of the headscarf for women liberation but demands respect and tolerance.

Support actions taken:
– UCIDE (Unión de Comunidades Islámicas de España) directs a letter to the schools principal claiming Najwa right to wear the hijab.
– FEERI (Federación Española de Entidades Religiosas Islámicas) directs a letter to the Minister of Justice claiming Najwa religious rights.
– ATIME (Asociación de Trabajadores Inmigrantes Marroquíes de España) makes a public communication to the media against the schools action.
– “Apoya a Najwa Malha” Facebook page is created to collect signatures for a formal protest.
– The Spanish Muslim Federation (FME), leaded by Yusuf Fernández, has announced that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court (the Spanish supreme body for interpreting the Constitution) because they think that the school measure violates Najwa’s fundamental rights (religious freedom).