Muslim academics in Spain face discrimination

Fri, 12 May 2023 8:51 GMT
Academic says her decision to become a Muslim was big step because she knew she would be ostracized.
Muslim academics in Spain face discrimination

Spanish academics who convert to Islam conceal that they are Muslims so that their careers will not be harmed, one such academic who works in the field of international relations said Thursday. 

Speaking to Anadolu, Luci Hurtado highlighted the discrimination against Muslim academics at universities in Spain.

Hurtado said she was a Catholic before becoming a Muslim in 2010.

Noting that she could not get clear answers from the people around her to questions about Christianity and that she discovered Islam while researching the history of Spain to clear her mind, Hurtado stressed that her decision to become a Muslim was a big step because she knew she would be ostracized by her social circle after she converted.

Hurtado said she encountered strong reactions and discrimination when she told her family and close friends that she was a Muslim, adding her father rejected her decision to convert to Islam.

She said she joined a community founded by Muslim Spaniards in order to make friends when she was excluded from her social circle. She noted that others like her also complained of being discriminated against by society.

Hurtado said she earned a doctorate in international relations at one of the prestigious universities in Spain in 2011 and that she was not discriminated against because she was not wearing a headscarf at the time, but Muslim Spaniards around her were excluded from the academy.

She noted that Spanish academics who are Muslims are more pressured than Muslim academics coming from foreign countries.

She said she began facing discrimination even before academic life.

"The pressure starts before you enter academic life. They research you for a long time during the application. This is not a procedural thing. The professors of the department call your professors at the university you come from and investigate whether you are a Muslim or a 'radical' person. If it turns out that you are a Muslim, you are not accepted into the academy. If you ask the people who do this, they deny it because what they're doing is illegal," she said.

Hurtado noted that Spanish academics who were discovered to be Muslims were branded as "traitors who betrayed their country."

She said Spanish lecturers who are Muslims also have great difficulties in applying to other universities.

"No Spanish academics who choose to become a Muslim will answer the questions you ask me because they are afraid of being stigmatized and exposed. The universities we apply to look at our religion more than our academic career. If it turns out that we are Muslims, the credibility of our articles, analyses and research will be questioned."

Hurtado said the thesis advisors did not speak out against academic bullying even though they thought this was wrong, adding the need felt by Muslim Spaniards to conceal their religion has caused them stress and psychological problems.


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