Mayors defend Moors and Christians

LAST UPDATED: 5 Sep, 2010 @ 21:59
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LOCAL mayors are vowing to continue a traditional fiesta despite calls for it to be banned from one leading lslamic group.

The Moors and Christians festival is celebrated in 30 towns and villages in the Granada province at different times of the year. It depicts the reconquest of Christian Spain from its Moorish invaders but Félix Herrero, the president of the Spanish Islam Federation, called it undemocratic and insulting to Islam.

He said: “A celebration like this does not belong in a democratic Spain of the 21st century. “In the interests of a peaceful coexistence this fiesta must be stopped.”

During the celebrations, hundreds of locals dress up as either Christians or Moors and re-enact local history. The two sides stage a mock battle with the Christians the eventual winners.

Carmen Peñalver, the organiser of two of the biggest Moors and Christians celebrations in the province at Benaumarel and Zújar, hit back at Señor Herrero, who is also iman at a Málaga mosque. She labelled his request “barbaric.”

“Our fiesta does not offend Islam. It is something more than that. It is a celebration of the coexistence and peace between two different cultures and religions.

“He is a true barbarity if he thinks he can make these demands,” she added.

She said passages from a speech read by the victors which poke fun of Mohammed, the most important
prophet of Islam, have long been removed to defend local Muslims.

Cúllar mayor José Miguel Martínez said his village, which celebrated its version of the festival on April 25, would never prohibit it. He also added the version of his village ends on a positive note: an agreement is signed between the Moors and Christians to maintain good relations between the two religions, cultures and races.

Not all Muslims agree with Señor Herrero. Abdennur Prado, the President of the Islamic Council of Cataluña, said: “These fiestas are not offensive to me. In fact, they are a reminder of our shared past.” He added he would, however, like to see images of Mohammed removed.

Two villages in the Valencia region have, however, been forced to tone down their festivals. During those celebrated in Bocairent and Beneixama, a three-metre-high statute of Mohammed, the most important
prophet of Islam, was beaten with sticks.

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