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TVE presenter slammed for asking Spanish born-and-bred Muslim if she 'feels integrated in Spain'
A TELEVISION presenter has been hit with a barrage of criticism for 'clichés' and 'ignorance' after asking a prominent Spanish Muslim if she 'considers herself integrated' in the country.
Miriam Hatibi, spokeswoman for the Ibn Battuta Foundation in Barcelona, was interviewed on Spain's channel one, TVE, for its morning news and current affairs programme, La Mañana.
Presenter Silvia Jato wanted to know whether Muslims 'live in a ghetto' or 'live like Spaniards', following the terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils, an inquiry which has already been slammed on Twitter as 'cringeworthy' by its very nature.
In response to the first question about whether she 'feels integrated in this country', Miriam, 24, said: “I know a lot of people don't think I'm integrated for the simple reason that I wear a hijab, but when I think of 'my country', I think about here [for Spain].”
Jato, not satisfied, asked, “Do you have friends from outside your community?” Understood to be that of Muslims.
“As I was born here, have grown up here, been to a convent primary school, a State secondary school and a State university, evidently not all my friends are Muslims,” Miriam replied patiently.
The young professional, who has had a glowing career since she graduated in International Business Economics from the Pompeu Fabra University, holds a master's degree in Internationalisation from the University of Barcelona and is fluent in English, French, Spanish, catalán and Arabic.
“The Muslim community here isn't so large that we can go through our lives only ever mixing with other Muslims. I just lead a normal life like any other Spaniard.”
“But do you feel integrated?” asked the presenter.
“I don't need to think about whether I feel integrated or not. Do you feel integrated in Spain?” Miriam replied, beginning to lose her cool.
“Blimey, yeah, I do. When I left Galicia and moved to Madrid, I thought, 'will I integrate or won't I'?” Jato replied.
“Of course, but you were born in Galicia and you moved to Madrid. I was born in Barcelona and I live in Barcelona, so I've never had to go through any kind of process in which I might consider whether or not I should try to integrate,” Miriam responded, crossly.
“I've grown up with a multiple identity that, of course, led me to question lots of things about myself as a teenager, but integration in Spanish society, where I was born, grew up and still live, has never been one of them.”
Continuing with the stereotypes, Jato even asked about whether Christian churches would be allowed in Morocco – a country Miriam has only visited three times in her life on holiday.
She was referred to the fact that mosques have been set up by Muslims in Spain – buildings which are not just for prayer but which act as community and social centres – and the content of the interview implied, 'why should Spain accept mosques here if Muslim countries don't allow Christian churches?'
“What would you think if I built a church in Morocco?” Silvia Jato asked.
“I understand what you're trying to say, but I've visited Morocco a few times and can vouch for the fact that, in my experience, there are indeed churches and cathedrals there,” Miriam responded.
“But Christian churches?” Jato pressed.
“If they're 'churches', what else would they be other than 'Christian'?” Miriam answered, rhetorically.
“You're asking me about Morocco when I'm Barcelona born and bred and have only ever been there on holiday. Why wouldn't there be cathedrals and churches in Morocco?”
Midway through the interview, seeing how Miriam was becoming annoyed at what Twitter users have described as the 'crassness' of her questions, Silvia said several times, “nobody's attacking you.”
She concluded the interview swiftly, explaining: “There are people out there who think that just because you wear a headscarf that you're not integrated in society. I don't believe that at all, and that's why I'm asking you, so that people will get it out of their heads that just because you wear a scarf you must be foreign. That's the message I'm trying to get across, that you are integrated, so that Muslims don't get threatened, because a lot of people are really ignorant. We're delighted you're here, and don't feel threatened.”
Miriam, who clearly felt the presenter had missed her point, nonetheless thanked her for the opportunity to put her point across.
She had agreed to the interview because she said Muslims wanted to debunk the myths surrounding them, to 'explain their religion properly' in the face of radicals 'hijacking Islam'.
“That's why we're going out on the street – not because we think it's our fault, but out of compassion,” Miriam said at the start of the slot before things became heated.
“We were born and grew up in Barcelona and we're suffering, too. You can't hold us responsible for terrorism because we also suffer through it, due to our position.”
Asked whether the Muslim community in Spain and beyond was 'truly united' or whether terrorism
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