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Spain Tones Down Festival, Fears Muslims

From the UK’s Times:

Christian soldiers take a beating over battle with Moors

October 23, 2006

From Thomas Catan in Calpe

CHRISTIAN and Muslim armies clash in Spain today in a titanic battle for control of the Costa Blanca, just miles from the tourist towers of Benidorm.

After a spectacular Moorish landing on the beaches the Christians will emerge victorious, as they did in Calpe in 1240. But there will be no crowing, and the end of the “battle” will be accompanied by speeches about civilisations living together in harmony

Throughout the country towns and villages are toning down traditional fiestas of “Moors and Christians” to avoid offending Muslims.

The fiestas — some dating back hundreds of years — celebrate the final “reconquest” of Spain by Christian armies from the Moors in 1492 after 781 years of Muslim rule. Villagers divide into rival “armies” of Moors and Christians to re-enact the conquest of their towns. But rows in Denmark and Germany over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, and the Madrid train bombings in March 2004, have caused Spanish towns to think again. Several have stopped parading giant effigies of Muhammad.

If the fiestas culminated in the burning or blowing up of a figure, that bit has been suppressed, out of fear, out of respect, out of everything,” says Xavi Pascual, the organiser of the fiesta in the Valencian town of Bocairent. “But the important thing is that the structure has not been modified.”

In some instances, however, the fiesta has changed radically and some Muslim leaders have called for them to be banned, saying they were outdated and triumphalist celebrations with no place in modern Spain.

“For the sake of peaceful coexistence, they should disappear,” said Félix Herrero, imam of the mosque in Málaga and the president of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities.

Other leaders have taken a softer line, asking only that events should avoid purposely offending Muslims. Nevertheless, Malik Ruiz, the president of the Islamic Commission in Spain, said Spaniards should “not touch some issues that cause visceral reactions”, such as the portrayal of Muhammad.

Conservative politicians have decried the changes as self-censorship. The opposition Popular Party has even asked Unesco to declare them a “masterpiece of theoral and intangible heritage”…

Terrorism works.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, October 22nd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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