Spanish minister under fire for criticising Islamic headscarf
Spain’s Equality Minister Bibiana Aido denounces female Muslim dress as a violation of human rights. Muslim community protests comments.
26 June 2008
SPAIN - Spain's Equality Minister Bibiana Aido has angered Muslims by criticising the Islamic headscarf, alleging that it undermines the rights of women, media reported Thursday.
Muslim men could dress in Western clothes, Aido said, asking why women wearing loose clothes and headscarves could not do the same.
"Not all cultural practices must be protected and respected," she said, expressing her opposition to practices "violating human rights and promoting inequality" between the sexes.
Muslim women "wear the veil because they feel like it," representatives of Spain's Muslim community responded, advising the minister "not to talk about what she does not know about."
The Koran advised both men and women to dress modestly, said Mansur Escudero, president of the Islamic Board.
Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodrigues Sapatero, a self- confessed feminist, created the Equality Ministry on appointing Spain's first female-dominated cabinet in April. Aido, 31, became the youngest minister in Spanish history.
Spain has a Muslim community of more than half a million people.