22 Feb, 2013 @ 11:00
1 min read

Muslims avoid jail after praying in Catholic cathedral


A GROUP of Muslims have escaped prison after a fight broke out as they began praying at the famous Mesquita in Cordoba.

The nine Austrians were facing 15 years in prison between them for assault and orchestrating prayers in the historic mosque, which is now consecrated as a cathedral.

Prayers have been outlawed at the cathedral since 2010 despite Muslims repeatedly lobbying the Roman Catholic Church.

The court heard how the group allegedly arrived separately with walkie-talkies and refused to stop praying when asked by security guards.

They claim however that they did not know praying at the cathedral was banned before taking part in a three minute prayer, led by Zaid El-Aifari.

The cleric told the court how onlookers had asked the guards to let them finish their prayers.

He also denied that any of the group attacked security guards and claims trouble broke out only when a guard took out a truncheon and began to hit them.

He alleged that he was physically assaulted by a guard, while two of his group denied attacking the guards with a Swiss Army knife and crutches.

Currently Muslim visitors are informed when they buy their tickets that praying is banned.

The group was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Judge Juan Luis Rascon said: “Although their behaviour could be considered socially reprehensible by some, to convict them would do a disservice to freedom of religious thought and respect for the plurality of religions.”


  1. A friend of mine almost got beaten there for taking a photograph using a tripod. It would have been ok if the camera was hand-held! We concluded the security people there aren’t the brightest candles in the … well … church actually. Or mosque?

  2. In the article it reads:

    Currently Muslim visitors are informed when they buy their tickets that praying is banned.

    So what happens at the kiosk? “That’ll be 10 euros and what religion are you?”

  3. It was built as a Mosque; it looks like a Mosque; its even called a Mosque – so surely it can be used as one. ‘Modestely’ adapted to be a Cathedral, it is surely an ideal opportunity to show that the two religions, worshipping the same God, can coexist. It’s certainly big enough to set aside a part for Muslim worship and conveniently the Holy days will not clash. To bring Cordoba back to its days of tolerance and intellectual flourish perhaps another corner could be set aside for a Jewish Temple.
    Come on Cordoba, and Spain, you’re missing a great opportunity here.

  4. It was a mosque before the Cathedral was built in it. I was there this past June and it’s just one of the greatest places to ever go. I understand that Muslims have been denied the right to hold services there. Didn’t know they couldn’t go in a pray, either. I agree with Iberscot – this is a great opportunity for Catholics to show their tolerance of other religions.

  5. I am agnostic and I distrust of the religious organizations (because I think they are movements more political than spiritual, besides a lot of its principles collide with democratic values) but that temple is catholic and these citizens must respect it.
    Maybe, they are converts instead of being it by birth. Since, a Muslim by birth arrived from an Islamic country knows that a lot of their temples are build over old temples too (Christian, and other religions). And a lot of Islamic countries are stricter about religious themes. If this fact happens in opposite sense, the penalty in some Muslim countries is very, very, very, very,very…. hard.
    Besides, this is not an appropriated social attitude. It is an unnecessary provocation.
    Finally, I wish people come to Spain they are open-minded, tolerant and democratic.

  6. I saw recently on an American website that a group of Austrian Muslims were complaining because they said a Leggo model of some Star Wars building looked like the Hagia Sophia mosque in Istanbul and was therfore disrespectful. It strikes me as strange that a group of Austrian Muslims would travel all the way to Cordoba to pray. Perhaps this is the same group and their only goal was to create a political point. Mosques are freely opened across the Western world and nobody complains. Try opening a Christian church in Mecca and see what level of tolerance you will find.

  7. Mexl, any organisation, including Churches, particularly in Spain under Franco, having some influence over the population, fell victim to the wishes of dictatorship. Your feelings are shared with millions of others in Spain and other failed dictatorships worldwide.
    Wonderful as the Mezquita is, the ruins of a much older Christian Church lie below. Presumably the fate of most Churches throughout Spain after the Moslem military conquest.
    The people involved in this ‘prayer gathering’ came equipped with walkie-talkies, not, as far as I am aware, an essential part of Moslem prayer ritual! It seems more likely to have been an attempt to antagonise tourists and guards present in the Mezquita, not a genuine act of worship.
    There are also big differences between the acts of worship as practised by Christians or Moslems. With Christianity, absolutely no formality, whereas Moslems have a definite etiquette, removal of shoes, prayer mats, prostration etc., which could cause some disruption to what is essentially a tourist attraction.
    Add to this the bombing of Churches in Nigeria etc., by satanic Moslem murderers and the forced exodus of Christians from many Middle Eastern countries caused by Moslem terror tactics and tolerance is the victim.
    But if true democratic civilisation eventually prevails throughout the world, one day there will be respect in all countries for every facet of belief, atheists, Christians, Moslems, Buddhists, Communists, etc.

  8. It was a chapel first then a mosque and now the cathedral. I went in May and was not asked for my religion however I may have prayed. How could anyone be sure? I have always believed that churches encouraged praying. Is this no longer true?

  9. Bravo,Iberscot.
    Personally I feel a section of the Mezquita to be allocated for Muslim prayers. The city in the 7th Century was the beacon of enlightenment. It had education, street lights, hospitals, libraries where ancient Greek was translated into Arabic. Such intolerance in modern time when we are living in a global village !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The Mezquita was a church was bought & to become a mosque. The pillars inside are Roman like the bridge on the river qualdelquvir.

    The mezquita is a lovely serene place to worship in irrespective of one’s faith. It is as spiritually uplifting as the patio de lyones in the Alhambra Palace.

    The bigot, Franco in order to control people & use the Church to suit his objective exploited the situation.

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