Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Spanish Bishops Fear Rebirth of Iberian Caliphate
Spain's bishops are alarmed by plans to reestablish the city of Cordoba - once the heart of the medieval Islamic caliphate of al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe. 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.
Other major mosques are reportedly planned for Medina Azahara near Cordoba, Seville and Granada. Last month, Spanish Muslims reasserted their right to pray in Cordoba's Great Mosque, known in Spanish as la Mezquita - which was reconsecrated as a Roman Catholic cathedral in 1236 shortly after the city was captured from the Moors in a crusade led by King Ferdinand III of Castile.
Bishops in the southern Spanish cities are alarmed at the construction of ostentatious mosques, financed from abroad. Up to one million Muslims live in Spain, many drawn by a romantic nostalgia for the lost paradise of al-Andalus, the caliphate that ruled Spain for more than five centuries.