Spanish conservatives: No more sexist symbols!

The country's Popular Party wants to ban symbolic discrimination against women, including the hijab.

Published February 9, 2008 12:25AM (EST)

A day after Turkey took a giant leap toward repealing its head-scarf ban in universities, there comes news that if Spain's conservative party comes to power in next month's general election it plans to enact a similar ban across all public schools. From the rainbow's array of anti-head-scarf rhetoric, the Popular Party has chosen the most, well, popular tack: the defense of women. "We feel that what makes sense is to establish in the framework of the law that use of symbols which might amount to discrimination or a demonstration of submission of women must be avoided," said Juan Costa, the party's coordinator.

In other words, the Popular Party's solution to the discrimination experienced by some hijab-wearing Muslim women is to discriminate against all Muslim women by eliminating their choice to wear the hijab. But, really, the party seems more concerned with addressing the non-Muslim interpretation of the symbol of the hijab than with Muslim women's individual experiences of it -- like, for starters, whether wearing the hijab is voluntary or forced upon them. (Also, good luck trying to eliminate all potential symbols of discrimination against women.)

Interestingly enough, the party plans to allow certain schools with a largely Muslim student body to opt out of the ban. Which, again, raises an obvious question: Who are they really trying to protect?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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