Teaching Islam and about Islam in the Spanish Public System: The Confessional and the Cultural Approach to a Controversial Heritage
Elena Arigita [+]
University of Granada
Is Islam part of Spain as a cultural and historical formation and identity? The answer has been a constant source of controversy between two schematic and reductive views of Islam as an idealized legacy of coexistence, “La convivencia”, and as the enemy that invaded and was expelled from an essentially uniform Christian land. It is as well at the core of heated debates in the current context of the global fear of Islam which, in the Spanish public sphere, is often reduced to this schematic question: should Islam and the Islamic heritage be incorporated into the narrative of what Spain is or does it remain as an alien and the enemy? If we observe this issue through the lens of education, we’ll see how the subjects of the history of Spain and the one called “religion” (which is included in the curricula as part of the agreements with the officially recognized confessions) interact in the schools to create a narrative that makes Islam part (or not) of its historical past but mostly a present for an immigrant minority while at the same time contributing to defining the limits and contours of secularity and religious liberty. This paper will look at the legal framework and further implementation in the Southern region of Andalucía with the aim of observing how the teaching of Islam has been introduced in the public education system, as well as its interaction with other initiatives by the public system.