Spanish girl awaits school decision on her Muslim veil

Mohammed Mahla and daughter Nawja.

 

A 14-year-old girl in Spain was expelled last week from her classroom in Madrid because she was wearing traditional a traditional Muslim veil during an exam. The teenager had begun wearing the hijab some months ago, ostensibly by her own volition, in accordance with Muslim religious teachings. According to her attorney, she has since returned to class while school authorities are deciding on her case.  She holds Spanish citizenship, while her father hails from Ceuta – a colonial enclave on the coast of North Africa bordered by Morocco. 
 
According to the school, the girl was expelled from the exam because her veil covered her ears. School regulations forbid students to cover their ears during exams because of the incidence of the use of earphones and electronic media for cheating. School rules also prohibit clothing that precludes the identification of students. The girl’s lawyer, Ivan Jimenez Aybar says that the girl’s traditional dress clearly identifies her. 
 
Attorney Jimenez Aybar says that the school should adhere to the norms of Spain’s ministry of interior, which has ruled that residents of Spain need only reveal their faces from the chin to the hairline on photographs appearing on their national identity cards. The school, therefore says Jimenez Aybar, must adhere to the ministry’s norms. “The issue is very clear,” said the attorney who clarified that school administrators have been respectful. 
 
The lawyer said that this case is different from that of a girl named Nawja in a town called Pozuelo de Alarcón. In that case, the girl was expelled because her school prohibited students from wearing headgear. In this case, the school had ruled against clothing that inhibits the identification of students. As of now the girl in the most recent case has returned to school but is not wearing her veil. If the school issues a final decision on the matter, the school would then move to either expel the student or move her to another school.


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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