Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar asked Muslims to "apologize for occupying Spain for 800 years." Aznar made his comments Friday night when he discussed Pope Benedict XIV’s humiliating remarks about the Islamic credo.
He considered that West and Islam are warring parties now.
Aznar’s speech surprised many Muslim communities and media in Spain, some look upon these statements as a clear evidence for anti-Islam that may cause ties between Spain-Islamic communities to be tense.
Aznar made his speech in an anti-Islamic conservative institute; Hudson Institute, "the West is under attack from radical Islam and must defend itself." Aznar said he found it surprising that Muslims have demanded an apology from the pope over his Sept. 12 remarks.
Aznar noted the nearly 800-year Moorish occupation of Spain that began in the year 711 with an invasion from North Africa. He said Muslims had never apologized for this but still demand apologies whenever they feel offended by remarks by non-Muslims. "It’s absurd," Aznar said.
Aznar repeated that he is from the supporters of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand who led the last campaign against Muslim Andalusians. They ran the inquisitions that expelled Muslims, confiscated their properties, made a forcible migration for millions of Muslims from theirs, and cremated thousands of Muslims alive according to the evidences supported by Spanish and European historians. Aznar believes that West and Islam are in state of war,"It is them or it is us," Aznar said. "There is no middle ground." He did not elaborate.
Statements of Aznar resulted in many criticisms from Islamic communities. Head of Islamic President of Islamic Preaching Society and the Secretary-General of the Committee to Support the Alliance of Civilizations Daw’ah Molay Ali Al-Raysoni said that statements are severely dangerous because they reflect the ideologies of those who ruled Spain for short while, and they are clear evidence on the trends of the late governments in Spain especially The people’s Party PP.
In an interview for Islamonline.net, Al-Raysoni who is one of the grandsons of the Grenadian leader Ibn Rushd who settled north Morocco after the Fall of Grenada in 1492 stressed that these statements incite hatred and it seems that they rake over the ashes. Aznar’s remarks reflect his fanatic spirit of Crusaders and his anti-Islamic stances, although Islam which is the religion of peace and love and introduced to man kind the civilization and civility.
"It was not Occupation"
A picture depicts the forcible displacements of Muslims into boats in order to be expelled out of Andalusia"
Al-Raysoni said, "Aznar’s demands apology for what he called occupation is not on right bases, because Muslims presence in Andalusia never had been invasion or imperialism." He elucidated saying that Muslim conquests to Andalusia were a great progress for Mankind, and a high human connectedness, it is manifested clearly in the eternal antiquities left by Muslims in Andalusia.
He pointed that the Andalusian civilization in Cordoba, Seville and Granada and other cities transferred science and civilization to all western countries especially in Europe. Al-Raysoni expressed his astonishment that Aznar’s lecture comes at time where a group of Spanish thinkers and Arabs in Cadiz University would commemorate 1300 years for the Islamic Conquests in Andalusia.
It is determined that by 2011 there will be a great international celebration to commemorate 13 centuries passed for the Muslims’ existence in the Iberian Peninsula, then they went to Europe. Many Western historians believe that Islamic conquests for Andalusia were a great bliss for Europe.
Andalusian Moroccans estimate about 5 millions where most of them settle in North Morocco since the time of their ancestors were expelled from Andalusia. Other Andalusians settled in Algeria, Tunisia, while other settled in European countries, Palestine and Levant, while some historians say that Andalusians moved to the American continent that was discovered at the same time when Granada fell.
Observers believe that Aznar’s return to attack verbally Islam would result in tense Spanish-Islamic ties. They also consider this as undermining the activities of the committee of "the alliance of civilizations" which Al-Raysoni suggested and was applauded the Spanish Prime Minister by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero especially when we know that there is only one year before the legislative elections.
Spanish Newspaper Diario Vasco commented that Aznar appears again on political arena but through criticizing harshly the Islamic rule in Spain for 8 centuries. The Newspaper pointed that Aznar’s criticism for Muslims and the alliance of civilizations comes at a time where the Spanish minister of foreign affairs Miguel Ángel Moratinos gives his speech before the UN General Assembly, he said that the committee for Alliance of Civilizations-sponsored by UN- would submit its final report in next December to the UN General-Secretary.
He criticized the concept of the "Alliance of Civilizations" between West and Muslims as "It is absurd" assuming that ties with Muslims are deteriorating daily.
Aznar was the head for many years of the rightist Popular Party that ruled the country from 1996-2004, the last days of his term witnessed bombings for train in Madrid where they accused a cell affiliate to Al-Qaeda to carry out the operation as a kind of punishment for Spain’s support to the Anglo-American invasion for Iraq in March 2003.
Another stance similar to that of Aznar’s when the Head of European Commission José Manuel Durão Barroso said that many European Leaders and Presidents should declare support for Pope’s remarks that were controversial.
German Newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung stated that Barroso expressed his disappointment that few European leaders supported Pope’s right to say his personal opinions. He believes that the problem is not in Pope’s remarks but it lies in the reaction of extremists.
In the episode of attacking Islam and taunting it, French Le Figaro magazine issued an article calling names for the Prophet (peace be upon him). The author of the article claimed thar the Holy Koran calls for violence and hatred also he ridiculed the pilgrimage rites of Muslims. The deputy of the editor-in chief expressed his sorry for issuing the articles.
Pope of Vatican has remarked last week during a lecture for some academics in Germany about the historical and philosophical difference between Islam and Christianity. He quoted a dialogue from the fourteenth century between a Byzantine emperor and a Persian intellectual where they were explaining the role of Muhammad.
In this dialogue, the emperor told the intellectual, ’Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Pope called Muslims to stop jihad.
Pope repeated his "deep sorry" that the remarks were misunderstood. However, the International union for Muslim Ulama do not consider it as an apology, and the called Pope to draw out the humiliating remarks from the lecture.
Pope refused to delete his remarks and thereupon the Union declared stopping any kind of dialogue with Vatican and called Muslims to express their rage from these remarks through peaceful means.