Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:14 am (KSA) 21:14 pm (GMT)

Spain closes mosque, arrests imam

Ibiza mosque was home to Arab culture school
Ibiza mosque was home to Arab culture school

Spanish authorities closed a mosque in the island of Ibiza and arrested its imam after charging him with beating several Muslim students in the mosque school, local press reported.

The Spanish Civil Guard closed the main mosque in the town of Sant Antoni, located in the Mediterranean island of Ibiza, and arrested its imam Kharin , who is of Moroccan origins, on charges of mistreating and beating 12 students at the School of Arab Culture, the Spanish language newspaper Diario de Ibiza reported.

 I send my little girl to the mosque to learn about her religion and culture 
Sant Antoni resident Anissa

Sant Antoni local police started conducting investigations about the imam after receiving several complaints from parents who reported that their children were being beaten with a stick on their heads, arms, and backs while taking their Arab culture lessons in the mosque’s school.

Muslims on the island were taken by surprise although most of them declined to talk to the press amid reports that the police cautioned them against doing so in order not to tarnish Spain’s image as far as liberties and freedom of faith are concerned.

Those who agreed to speak to the press expressed their disappointment about the closure of the mosque where they take their children in order to learn the Quran and Arab history and culture.

Moroccan-born Anissa, who wears the Islamic headscarf, enrolled her four-year old girl in the school and is one of the very few Muslims who agreed to speak to the press.

“I send my little girl to the mosque to learn about her religion and culture,” she told the Diario. “I also went there to pray and learn more about Islam. Now, neither can be done.”

Muslims never caused problems

 We never had problems with the Muslim community 
Provincial governemnt official José Ramon Serra

Manuel León, 80, said the mosque was never a source of trouble.

“Muslims who went there to pray never bothered anyone,” he told the paper.

Juana Reina, 78, agreed with León and pointed out that people who frequented the mosque were very peaceful and never caused problems.

“They usually prayed the mosque inside and sometimes in the patio,” she said. “Once they asked me to come and eat with them.”

All the Spanish interviewees, including officials, agreed that the mosque was never a nuisance, which raised more concerns about the reason of its closure, especially with the approach of the holy month of Ramadan.

“We never had problems with the Muslim community,” said José Ramon Serra from the provincial government.

The Muslim community on the island is made up of approximately 1,537 -- almost 1,488 from Morocco and the rest from Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and UAE.

(Translated from the Spanish by Sonia Farid)

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