Spain: Veil dispute or morality police?

Spain: Veil dispute or morality police?

The Washington Post has an article about the following story: Catalonia: Imam charged with harassment of fellow Muslim

Muslim woman's veil case represents clash of values in Spain (Washington Post)

As I was going over the morning's news, I realized the same story appeared in two different papers, each with a completely different slant:

Spanish town joins Europe veil debate (gulfnews, UAE)  vs  "Morality police" causes row in Spain (Aftenposten,Norway)



Benbrahim organized a petition demanding Ghailan's firing. Ghailan said the dispute soon escalated; she lodged a formal complaint against Benbrahim in November 2008, charging that he had harassed, threatened and attacked her and her family.

A local court issued a restraining order, barring the sheik from going near Ghailan or her family, and launched a formal investigation in which procedure dictated that Benbrahim be taken into custody. But, Ghailan said later, the mayor, Alberich, intervened to prevent the arrest, saying that it would disrupt relations with Cunit's Muslim community.

In an interview, Alberich said she did not prevent the arrest but discussed the case with the police chief, who decided it would be a bad idea to make an arrest.

At the same time, Alberich undertook to mediate directly with Benbrahim. In her mind, she said, the issue was a personal dispute, not a clash of values.

"There is no coexistence problem in Cunit," she said. "We have never had that."

The situation remained tense but quiet until the magistrate announced two weeks ago that his investigation was finished and that Benbrahim should be jailed for five years on charges of harassment, defamation and threats and that Osri should be sentenced to four years for harassment and defamation.

Spain's national newspapers took notice, and TV crews arrived. Soon afterward, Ghailan's friends said, she was threatened in the street again, this time by some of Benbrahim's followers.

Ghailan, who was briefly hospitalized for anxiety attacks, was unavailable to relate what happened, as was Benbrahim. But Ghailan told local reporters last week that she had been approached by Alberich after the magistrate's announcement with a suggestion that she withdraw her complaint to foster improved relations with the Muslim community and get the problem behind her.

Allegations that Alberich had sought to exempt the Islamic leadership from the legal system were the main issue that generated the calls for her resignation.

"It is important for political leaders to put clear limits, so the Muslims know they have to live with Spain's values," said Montserrat Carreras Garcia, a centrist city council member also unhappy with Alberich's performance.

In the interview, Alberich said she did not ask that the complaint be dropped but recognized that it would be difficult for Ghailan to continue working if Benbrahim and Osri are on trial and risk prison terms. In the meantime, she said, Ghailan is on sick leave.

"When she comes back, we'll have to see," Alberich said.


Source: Washington Post

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