Cordoba, 5 Jan. (AKI) - Spain's Federation of Islamic Religious Entitities (FEERI) is seeking to negotiate with the Catholic Church "to recuperate Muslim property on Spanish soil," FEERI spokesman Javier Isla announced. "In exchange, FEERI is prepared to return Catholic assets currently held by Muslim bodies in Spain," Isla said, quoted on Friday by Spanish daily ABC.
The move - described ironically by ABC as "a curious attempt at reciprocity," comes amid a simmering row sparked by the Bishop of Cordoba's refusal to allow Muslims to pray alongside Catholics in Cordoba Cathedral in southern Spain - which is a former mosque. "With these kinds of initatives, Islam has decided to put more pressure on the Church," ABC added.
An immediate rejection of FEERI's overture came from Spain's Espiscopal Conference. Despite interreligious dialogue, "Cordoba Cathedral remains Cordoba Cathedral, and no other group has legitimate historical claims upon it," said spokesman Juan Antonio Martinez Camino.
Juan Jose Asenjo, the Bishop of Cordoba, last week turned down the request by Muslims to be allowed to pray in the mosque. However, FEERI is holding out for a Muslim prayer room in Cordoba Cathedral, claiming this would not create the "confusion" between faiths cited by Asenjo as one of his reasons for not allowing Muslims to pray in the mosque. Asenjo also claimed joint prayers would lead to "religious indifference".
Spain's Islamic Board - which represents a community of some 800,000 in a traditional Catholic country of 44 million - also wants Muslims to be able to pray in Cordoba Cathedral - a request which has been made repeatedly in recent years. The Islamic Board, argued in a letter last week to Pope Benedict XVI that such a move in Cordoba could serve to "awaken the conscience" of followers of both faiths and help bury past confrontations.
The Islamic Board's spokesman, Mansur Escudero, has confirmed it does not intend to make any property claims, citing a 1992 accord with the state that defined Muslim property in Spain.
The Cordoba mosque was turned into a Catholic cathedral in the 13th century after the city was conquered by King Ferdinand III in the war to drive the North African Moors from the Iberian peninsula. Cordoba was the capital of 'al-Andalus' or the area of southern Spain under Arab rule from the eighth to the 15th century AD.
Bolding is of course mine.
It was a church first. I think that is the most important fact.
There should be a map. On this map is drawn the furthest bounds of Christendom at the time of the death of Muhammad or some other appropriate date (maybe the triumphant return of Muhammad to Mecca, but we'll be charitable and just give them all that Muhammad presided over at his death). In the name of 'fair is fair' and 'what was originally ours and what was originally yours we'll exchange', the Muslims of northern Africa, the Levant, various places throughout the Middle-east and on through central and southern Asia will all get up and go to Arabia. No muss, no fuss.