A delicate balance

Spain has a long history with Islam and has often been seen as a less reactionary place than some other nations in western Europe. But a small town in Spain has found itself the center of controversy.

“But Cunit has gained a new distinction: It is famous in Spain as the town where a Moroccan-born Muslim woman with a master’s degree and a head of curly hair says she was threatened by Muslim fundamentalists because she took off her veil and tried to live like a Spaniard.

“The treatment of Fatima Ghailan, 31, prompted an investigating magistrate to bring charges against the sheik of the local mosque, Mohamed Benbrahim, and the head of the Islamic Association, Abderraman el-Osri, the leading figures in Cunit’s Muslim community.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior that those on the far right in places like Austria and France warn of and it is sad to see their fears realized even if it is an exception to the rule. Those who practice Islam must, as those who practice any religion, respect the freedom that those who live among them have. The whole point of religious freedom, which is part of the bedrock of democracy, is that people can live as they see fit. We must not seek to ban things we disagree with nor force those who live in ways we disagree with to submit to our ideals of what constitutes proper worship.

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