Spanish Court Frees Egyptian Imam

A federal court in the northeastern Spanish city of Barcelona freed Monday, December 20, an imam jailed for a controversial book seen as inciting violence against women.

On November 25, a Barcelona judge ordered that the imam be imprisoned, arguing that the Muslim preacher presented a danger to society.

In this latest decision the court agreed with Mustafa's lawyer that keeping the imam in prison would not help his reintegration into society.

However, it ruled that he should attend classes on the rights accorded to women by the Spanish constitution and on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In his book, called "Women in Islam", which was published in 1997 in Spanish, Mustafa said that Muslim males could beat their wives lightly and in a symbolic way as a kind of punishment.

"The beatings must be administered to specific parts of the body, such as the feet and hands, using a stick that is not too big so as not to leave scars and bruises," he wrote.

No sooner had Kamal published his book than it was confiscated by Spanish authorities.

Mostafa has sent a message to the Spanish Muslim Committee, the main representative body of Muslims in Spain, stressing that his words were taken out of context.

"Neither the Qur’an nor Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) sayings allowed maltreatment of any person, male or female," he wrote.

"Hence, I would like to let all know that I condemn all forms of violence against women."

According to the Noble Qur'an , the relationship between the husband and wife should be based on mutual love and kindness.

However, in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife, but this is only applicable in extreme cases and it should be resorted to if one is sure it would improve the situation.

Too Much Fuss

Muslim figures in Spain said that Spanish media had made too much fuss about nothing.

They said Kamal’s books did not speak directly or indirectly about Spanish women in the first place, though Spanish statistics showed that they were subject to domestic violence which led often to deaths.

They said Spain has one of the most bad domestic violence records in Europe.

According to the National Spanish Observatory for Fighting Violence against Women, around 170 Spanish wives have been killed at the hands of their husbands during the past three years.

Other statistics prepared by Spanish feminist groups put the number of victimized wives at more than 200 during the same period, including 88 wives killed in 2003 alone.

Official statistics published in July showed that more than 10,000 women in Spain were at risk of domestic violence.

Most of the incidents are concentrated in south Spain, Valencia and Catalonia.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has made tackling the problem of domestic violence in Spain a top priority and said on taking office in April that he saw violence against women as the country's "worst shame."

Spain has a Muslim community of about 600,000 people out of a total population of 40 million. Some 94 percent of its population are Christian Catholics.

The country has recognized Islam through the law of religious freedom, issued in July 1967.

In 1989, the Union of the Islamic Association was set up, comprising 15 bodies to be merged later with the 17-strong Union of Islamic Society under the umbrella of the Spanish Muslim Committee.