Spanish Muslims at crossroads - integration or exclusion?
Madrid - Will Spain have a liberal or conservative type of Islam? Could fundamentalism soar? Will Muslims blend in, or will there be youth riots like in Paris in 2005? Can Spain find a third way between French-style assimilation of immigrants and British multiculturalism?
As the first modern generation of Spanish-born Muslims is coming of age, the country's Islamic communities stand at a crossroads.
The question of the integration of Muslims has come under a heated debate after the opposition conservatives announced they would ban Muslim headscarves in most schools if they win the March 9 elections.
The proposal sparked criticism from the governing Socialists and the far left, which slammed the conservatives as xenophobic racists.
'Immigrants should never become a cheap electoral merchandise,' Kamal Rahmouni, president of the Moroccan immigrants' association Atime, said in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.
Spain needs to develop 'solid elements' to deal with problems related to immigration when they arise, Rahmouni stressed, calling for a 'state pact' between the two main parties.
Spain is estimated to have more than a million Muslims, making Islam the country's second biggest religion after Roman Catholicism.
1) Spanish Muslims at crossroads - integration or exclusion?