Spanish school forced to let Muslim wear headscarf

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MADRID, Oct 3 (Reuters) An eight-year-old Muslim girl in Spain who stayed off school when told to remove her headscarf returned to classes after her college was ordered to let her wear the traditional head cover, her mother said.

The regional government of Catalonia, northeast Spain, told the school in Girona to let Shaima Saidani wear the scarf, or hijab, on grounds it would be discrimination not to do so, local media reported.

''She went back to school today, it's all been resolved, thank God it's over,'' Noana Alharami, the girl's mother, yesterday told Reuters by telephone.

The decision by the Catalonian government contrasts with a ban on headscarves from state schools in France as well as some colleges in the Netherlands.

Britain and many other EU states allow the headscarf in the name of civil liberty, or let schools decide their own policy.

The public school in Girona last week said Saidani could not go to class wearing the headscarf based on an internal rule against discrimination among students.

Catalonia's education department overruled the Joan Puigbert-Annexa public school on grounds the Spanish state respects all religions and allows Muslims to wear the hijab.

Saidani's mother said her daughter had lived much of her life in Morocco with her grandmother, who gave her a religious education. She said it was Saidani's decision to wear a hijab.

Saidani was forced to change schools last year after students at another college pulled off her headscarf, Alharami said.

REUTERS SG HT0936

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