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Saturday, May 15, 2010

Controversy in Córdoba

Whilst researching an article for QatarVisitor.com in Spain John finds outrageous lies in an attempt by Spanish Catholics to defend their destruction of an Islamic mosque famed for its beauty and to cast doubts on the tolerance and achievements of a great era in Islamic history.

When you visit the Grand Mosque in Córdoba, you are presented with a leaflet, ostensibly a tourist guide. However, on reading it, I found it was a blatant piece of propaganda for the Catholic Church's vandalism carried out on the Mosque.

Now, I would not wish to visit the sins of the father on the son, but there is no trace of repentance for the destruction of the work of art that the Mosque undoubtedly was.

Questionable "facts"

One statement that really annoyed me was:

"It is a historical fact that the basilica of San Vicente was expropriated and destroyed in order to build what would later be the Mosque, a reality that questions the theme of tolerance that was supposedly cultivated in the Córdoba of the moment."

Now, according to my research, the Muslims and Christians shared the original building for around fifty years and then the Muslims bought the Christian's half from them in order to build the Mosque. That seems reasonably tolerant to me.

Comparative tolerance

If we are talking about tolerance, lets consider a few more facts. It is well known from historical documents that the Muslims encouraged other races and religions to join in the great cultural movement that was afoot in Córdoba during its Islamic heyday and Christian and Jewish scholars in the University there produced important works.

On the other hand, following the reconquista, "Los Reyes Católicos" expelled all Muslims and Jews who would not convert, conveniently allowing them to top up their treasury with any unsold property left behind.

They also restored the Inquisition, which was responsible for around 12,000 deaths of innocent people, who were tortured until they "confessed" and then burnt alive at the stake. Such tolerance! This time the Catholic Church got its hands on the property of the deceased, allowing it to increase its already considerable wealth and its priests to live in luxury while the peasants starved.

Another Kingly Cock-up!

Apart from the idiot King Carlos III, who gave permission for the destruction of the Mosque without having seen it and then too late realising his error (not mentioned in the Catholic leaflet - how strange), the religiously fanatical Ferdinand (who was from a Jewish background - you know what they say about converts being the worst) and Isabel (the Catholic Monarchs) gave huge tracts of land to their supporters of nobility and left the peasants with insufficient to scratch a living and thus caused a problem in Andalucía which lasted until recent times.

Many of these land owners were absentee landlords and the once fertile, food producing land was left to be grazed by sheep and Spain had to import grain as a result.

The controversy continues.

In April 2010, six Muslims entered the Mosque and started to pray. This horrifying act was quickly jumped on by the security guards and four of the Muslims left quietly. The other two refused, the police were called and they were arrested.

One of the diocesan priests wrote a newspaper article to defend the action. The message was quite clear, this is a Catholic Cathedral, we won't allow people of other faiths to pray here. Tolerance?

As one newspaper cartoon put it, "You can't pray here, this is a church".

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