A Moroccan immigrants' association in Spain Friday condemned a school's decision to bar a 16-year-old girl from class for refusing to take off her Islamic headscarf.
"For the past several weeks Najwa Malha cannot go to class in her school, which is contrary to her right to a basic education guaranteed by the constitution," said the head of the association, Kamal Ramoini.
The head of the school, which is in the Madrid region, said in a statement its internal regulations bar "the use of hats and any other article of clothing that cover the head."
Ramoini, who heads the Association of Moroccan Workers and Immigrants in Spain, said the group had made known its "deep disagreement with this decision."
Malha, who was born in Spain to Moroccan parents, said she alone took the decision to wear the headscarf to school last February "against the advice of her mother," Spanish media said.
It said the girl's classmates have supported her decision.
But regional authorities have backed the school, insisting that the regulations "must be enforced" while acknowledging that proposals to modify them were "being studied."
The issue is a relatively new one for Spain which has seen the number of immigrants living within its borders soar from around half a million in 1996 to 5.6 million last year, out of a total population of 46 million people.
Moroccans make up one of the largest foreign communities.