A conference of Muslim women ended in Spain this week with a call to end what it called negative stereotypes in the West and the announcemnet that the next meeting will be held in Majorca. The final statement at the end of the two-day conference attended by about 200 women and men, defended Islam as a religion of tolerance and condemned domestic violence. It expressed concern about difficulties faced by Muslim immigrant women to integrate into Western societies. But a key focus of the meeting of Muslim scholars, activists and professionals from Spain, Morocco, Sudan and Iran, among other countries, was how Muslim women who wear veils or are covered from head to toe by a gown are perceived in the West. “We have to stop thinking of Muslim women in a superficial way, as women who wear a veil, are subjugated to their husbands and have no opinion, and focus on other aspects such as how we live together peacefully no matter what our origin is,” said Azra Sljivo, a Muslim from Bosnia who now lives in Spain. Organizers said the conference was intended to begin a debate on the many obstacles Muslim women face and see if participants can learn from each other on ways to overcome such challenges. The communique agreed that the hijab “is a voluntary expression and a fundamental right of a woman's image.” Participants had called for the right of women to wear it with a religious meaning, and for acceptance of Muslim women who choose not to cover their heads. The gathering was organized by a Madrid-based Muslim women's human rights group, An-Nisa. Last year's gathering was canceled because of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Since then, there has been renewed interest in Islam. The wide attention given to the war in Afghanistan has brought many facets of Islamic society into focus in Western countries. The next Muslim Women's Congress is now scheduled to be held in Majorca.