Archbishop of Granada slams eight centuries of Islamic rule during Toma festival
THE Archbishop of Granada has been accused of inciting religious hatred after declaring Spain’s eight centuries of Islamic rule as “devastating.”
Speaking during a Mass to commemorate the conquest of Moorish Granada, Javier Martinez said “eight centuries of devastation, suffering and intolerance” came to and end when the Catholic Majesties Isabel and Fernando entered the city on January 2, 1492.
He also told the congregation at Granada’s cathedral that subsequent Christian rule has resulted in “coexistence and fraternity.”
The Archbishop was speaking at the annual Toma festival, which celebrates the expulsion of the Moors – North African and Middle Eastern Muslims who ruled large parts of the Iberian peninsula for 800 years.
But his comments have been described as “dangerous” by members of the city’s Muslim community and immigrant welfare groups. The leader at Granada’s most important mezquita (Islamic place of worship) believes the declarations of the archbishop are a justification of Israel’s recent missile attacks on Gaza, which have left more than 300 Palestinians dead.
“What he said proves that he is either ignorant of the past or he is very cyncial. For some, his words may give meaning to the wave of attacks on Gaza,” said Ibrahim López, director of the Mezquita de la Paz.
Abdulhasib Castiñera, from the Mezquita Mayor, called the comments made by Martinez “obsolete and rank.” He added that they could fuel racial hatred during the Toma, a controversial celebration which has attracted members of the extreme Right in recent years.
Francisco Vigueras – a spokesman for welfare group Granada Open to Tolerance – has called on the Archbishop to apologise. “It is lamentable that Martinez has chosen to use the Toma to launch a message of confrontation instead of conciliation between different religions.
“I would like to remind the Archbishop of the Crusades and the Inquisition, which forced Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or face death.”
Spain’s eight centuries of Moorish rule are considered to be the golden age of Islam. During this time, Granada’s Alhambra palace – Spain’s biggest tourist attraction with more than 13 million visitors last year – as well as the Mezquita in Córdoba were constructed. At one point, the Mezquita claimed to house the largest library in the world.
The Archbishop of Granada is no stranger to controversy. In 2007, he expelled two Indian nuns from a convent in the city because of their nationality. Last year, he was acquitted of slander in a case involving a fellow priest.