15 Jun, 2009 @ 17:52
1 min read

Andalucia – A model of tolerance


President Obama has cited Moorish Spain as a good example of peaceful co-existence

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has held up Moorish rule in Andalucia as a good example of a tolerant Islamic culture.

Obama cited the tolerance shown by the occupying Muslims towards other races and religions, during the times of Al Andalus, as a positive model.

“The USA and Islam don’t need to compete with each other”

He was proposing a “new beginning” in relations between the USA and the Muslim world.

Speaking in Egypt, he said: “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see that in the history of Andalucia and of Cordoba.

“The USA and Islam don’t need to compete with each other,” he continued, “Instead we need to share principles such as justice and tolerance.”

The Moors, who were a mixture of Muslims from North Africa and the Middle East, occupied much of the Iberian Peninsula from 711 until 1492, when the last caliphate was defeated by Christian forces at Santa Fe near Granada.

During their almost 800 years of occupation, they lived relatively amicably alongside Jews, Christians and gypsies.

They introduced many lasting and beneficial innovations to Spain, including irrigation, architecture, algebra, many new crops and a rich and diverse culture.


  1. Oops, it looks like your author is as familiar with Andalusian history as Obama’s speech writers.

    While it is true many Jews were accepted at times, a fair amount of Al-Andalus’ history was not amicable, Christians and Jews were often sold into slavery, forced to pay extra taxes, and often forced to wear distinctive clothing that set them apart. In addition, Sharia Law, of the type currently being battled against in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia was repeatedly invoked.

  2. Nice Obama plug for Andalucia history tours. But I agree with Andy. This “period of tolerance” may be more romantic than true.

    In the U.S., this harmony of tolerance is the central theme of a ten-year-old book called “Ornament of World” by Harvard history professor Maria Rosa Menocal.

    I believe three other books are do a better job of capturing this 700-year period. One is “Arabs in History” by American historian Bernard Lewis. Another is “Moorish Spain” by British historian Richard Fletcher. But my favorite is “Vanished World” by ex-Jesuit priest Chris Lowney.

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