Excerpt:

This sunny little resort on the Mediterranean shore has long been a favorite for weekenders seeking to escape the congestion of nearby Barcelona for a dose of sandy beaches and sea breezes.

But Cunit has gained a new distinction: It is famous in Spain as the town where a Moroccan-born Muslim woman with a master's degree and a head of curly hair says she was threatened by Muslim fundamentalists because she took off her veil and tried to live like a Spaniard.

The treatment of Fatima Ghailan, 31, prompted an investigating magistrate to bring charges against the sheik of the local mosque, Mohamed Benbrahim, and the head of the Islamic Association, Abderraman el-Osri, the leading figures in Cunit's Muslim community.

The case also generated demands for the resignation of Mayor Judit Alberich, a liberal Socialist who, her political opponents said, catered to her Muslim constituents at the expense of respect for the law.

The conflict roiling Cunit and its 12,000 inhabitants has shown Spaniards that they are not exempt from the growing tensions in Western Europe over Muslim immigrants who seek to preserve their home-country ways -- and sometimes to impose a conservative strain of Islam -- in societies based on secular democracy and Christian tradition.


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