Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Islamic designs on Spain

The LA Times has an interesting articleabout Islam and Spain:

Many of Spain's Muslims long for an Islamic revival to reclaim their legendary history, and inaugurating the Great Mosque last year was the most visible gesture. But horrific bombings by Muslim extremists that killed nearly 200 people in Madrid on March 11 have forced Spain's Muslims and non-Muslims to reassess their relationship, and turned historical assumptions on their head.
Of all European counties, Spain has had the most complex relationship with Islam, since Muslims ruled most of Spain for seven hundred years until, in 1492, Ferdinand and Isabella (yes, the same ones who got Columbus started), managed to expel the last of them. The article gives what I think of as a balanced look at Spain's past, at it's present population, about the pressure from Moroccan immigrants, etc.
Like the society around them, Muslims in Spain are torn over questions of assimilation versus cultural identity. The community is, moreover, fractured along generational and ideological lines. Then there are the differences between immigrants and native-born Muslims, most of whom are converts. In Granada, the onetime seat of Moorish rule, where many Muslims identify themselves as Andalusians first, then as Spaniards, a number of native-born Muslims say they feel a duty to present what they describe as the moderate face of their religion and to promote a form of "European Islam" that is tolerant and democratic. "That's our struggle: to achieve a moderate balance against those extremists who are incapable of living in this society as Muslims," said Abdelkarim Carrasco, a real estate broker and president of the Federation of Spanish Islamic Entities, one of two major Spanish Islamic organizations negotiating with the Zapatero government.
Interestingly, it is not clear from this quotation if this moderate Islam should be one of many religions in a pluralist society, or if it should be a dominant, albeit moderate, religion. Additionally, the article is also at pains to point out that, "[u]nfortunately for Spain's Muslims, the militants who swear loyalty to Osama bin Laden are history buffs too. In claiming responsibility for the March bombings, they cited the loss of "Al Andalus" as motivation." The article ends as it begins, by talking about a brand new mosque in Granada, a City that was once the capital of Muslim Spain. In connection with that new mosque, the article has this to say:
It is not clear, however, that the group behind the mosque, followers of the Murabitun movement, shares that moderate sentiment [that is, a moderate Islam]. The president of the mosque foundation, Malik Ruiz, calls himself the Emir of Spain and has said Granada will return to its "natural origin" — Islam — after a 500-year interruption.
Now there's a thought.