Spain's bishops are alarmed by ambitious plans to recreate the city of Cordoba - once the heart of the ancient Islamic kingdom of al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe.The whole story is a text book example of muslim expropriation and cultural imperialism. First comes the hurt accusation:
Plans include the construction of a half-size replica of Cordoba's eighth century great mosque, according to the head of Cordoba's Muslim Association. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organisations in Morocco and Egypt.Other big mosques are reportedly planned for Medina Azahara near Cordoba, Seville and Granada.
The bishops of those cities are alarmed at the construction of ostentatious mosques, fearing that the church's waning influence may be further eclipsed by resurgent Islam financed from abroad. Up to one million Muslims are estimated to live in Spain. Many are drawn by a romantic nostalgia for the lost paradise of Al-Andalus, the caliphate that ruled Spain for more than five centuries.
Mansur Escudero, president of Spain's Islamic Council, has challenged the current head of Spain's Episcopal Conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez of Bilbao, to explain why Muslims could not pray in Cordoba's mosque. Mr Escudero said he had been encouraged by the Pope's act of prayer in Istanbul's Blue Mosque on his recent visit to Turkey. "It showed that mosques are open to Christian worshippers," he said. "Could not Muslims pray in Cordoba's mosque?"This by itself deserves an educational thrashing, for all falsehood implied. Go into any mosque anywhere, let alone in truly islamic countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Respectfully take off your shoes, approach the front (what christians would call the altar) and start reciting the Lords prayer. And watch how the opennes of the mosque dissolves even before you make it past 'Thy kingdom come'.
But Bishop Blazquez is not of a bad sort. He thinks it through and not wanting to offend anyone he comes up with this:
Bishop Blazquez replied that public collective praying was prohibited, but he supposed private or individual prayer was acceptable.The reaction was as swift as it was predictable:
Mr Escudero then announced that Muslims would henceforth return to Cordoba's mosque to pray "in a respectful, private and individual capacity". The bishops hit back, insisting that "Muslims cannot in any way pray in Cordoba cathedral".Give a dedicated muslim a finger...
It's a good thing the dear bishop made a stand at last. But he should never have tried to accomodate. In islamic law, once a right is granted it is granted forever, much like land once possessed by muslims is muslim land forever. Which explains the preoccupation of radical muslims with Al-Andaluz. And this episode just proves that Bin Ladens call to 'liberate Al-Andaluz' was not just mere posturing.
It'll be interesting to see how this story develops.
[UPDATE001] Aaron Hanscom has more on muslim attempts to 'revert' christian churches in Spain at PJM.