The Valencian government has overturned a Spanish high school’s ban on a young Muslim woman who refused to remove her hijab in class, ruling the headscarf was part of the woman’s religious identity. Takwa Rejeb, 22, was kept out of class for a week.
The Valencia regional education department ordered Benlliure High School to allow the woman to wear the Muslim garment in class, El Pais reported. It said its decision was based on talks “with the various educational and social agents involved.”
“This news has made me happy indeed,” said Rejeb, who is enrolled in evening courses in tourism studies. “It’s such bliss to see small changes bringing big ones in the end,” she told the newspaper.
“It’s a small step forward so we can be ourselves, without being coerced by the gaze of others.”
Rejeb was told last week that her school’s rules forbade students from wearing the veil to class in accordance with a dress code adopted in 2009.
The Valencia authorities were skeptical of becoming involved at first, saying it was the school’s prerogative to set its own rules. The woman was told she could attend a nearby school which has a similar course, but doesn’t have a hijab ban.
Rejeb decided to turn to the SOS Racism non-profit watchdog for help and advice, saying the rule was discriminatory.
In the long run, the regional government announced that it “has guaranteed the right to an education” for the young Muslim woman.
A few years ago, a school in Pozuelo de Alarcón, in Madrid, also kept a Muslim student out for the same reasons, but the regional government avoided intervening. The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid later ruled in favor of the school, El Pais reported.