Spain: "Islam gave me the rights not given by Catholicism"
Women have more rights in Islam than in Catholicism, a Spanish Muslim convert told a group of visiting Turkish journalists last week.
Born a Catholic and educated in Catholic schools, Laura Rodriguez converted to Islam and now represents Spanish Muslim women. She believes that Catholicism restricts women’s rights.
“Islam gave me the rights not given by Catholicism, like individual liberty, legal rights, the right to education, the right to employment and the right to sexuality,” said Rodriguez, the president of the Muslim Women’s Union in Spain.
“Women cannot communicate directly with God in the Catholic religion. They have no rights to sexuality. Their mission is to give birth to children,” she added. “[Catholic] women have no right to divorce. Birth control is forbidden by Catholicism.”
Until recently, Spanish women needed the official consent of their husbands to open a bank account, noted Yusuf Fernandez Ordonez, the secretary of the Muslim Federation of Spain, or FEME, of which Rodriguez’s organization is an affiliate.
When asked why women are more educated, more empowered and more present in public and private life in Christian countries compared to Muslim ones, Rodriguez said Europe cannot be evaluated from a Christian perspective since individual citizens may be Christian, but the church has lost its power to influence society.
Ordonez added that women acquired their rights after Christian European countries became secular following the French Revolution. “As for Islam, most of the countries are not reflecting the real Islam,” he said. “In Iran, for example, there are an equal number of men and women in universities.”
Though she says she has more rights as a Muslim, Rodriguez said there is still work to be done to improve conditions for Muslim women, especially migrants, in Spain. She has worked on migration issues for the past 17 years and says female migrants face more difficulties compared to their male counterparts.
In Spain, Rodriguez added, Islam is identified not only with extremism and terrorism, but also with immigration. She said that it should be seen as part of the European identity instead.
“This is a problem of identity. We are born Europeans but are Muslims. Islam is also part of the European identity,” she said.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News (English)