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Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > The Rapid Re-Islamization of Southern Spain ["Al-Andalus"]

The Rapid Re-Islamization of Southern Spain ["Al-Andalus"]

August 4, 2008


August 4, 2008 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Last May Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled predicted that "within 20 years Muslims will be in a majority in Europe." "There are now 25-30 million Muslims in Europe," he said. "This figure has many implications. The Muslims keep having many children, while the Europeans do not. This means that within 20 years the Muslims will be in a majority, which may have an exceptional influence on the decision-making." He called on Europe's 30 million Muslims to infiltrate society and become "walking propaganda machines." "Each person should say: 'I am an ambassador for Islam,' and they should take all action throughout Europe." 1

In parts of Europe this process of "Islamization" is taking place at a remarkably rapid pace. Over the past decades major European cities such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Antwerp, Berlin, Munich, Milan, Paris, Madrid, Birmingham, Leeds and London faced a huge influx of Muslim immigrants. In Britain fewer and fewer people regularly attend church services while the mosques are attracting ever bigger crowds: by the year 2050 the number of British citizens visting mosques may exceed the number of regular churchgoers. 2

It is in Southern Spain, though, that one can really speak of a trend of rapid "re-Islamization." For a period of about 800 years Southern Spain was ruled by Muslims and this vast area was then known as "Al-Andalus." (At one stage, Muslims even occupied nearly two-thirds of Spanish territory.) The Muslim rule came to an end on January 2, 1492, when Granada, the last Muslim stronghold, capitulated to the Roman Catholic kings. But even after the victories of the "Reconquista" ("reconquest"), a demographical problem continued to play a part in 16th and 17th century Spanish politics. The birthrate among Muslims ("Moriskos") was much higher than among Christians ("Cristianos"). In the Kingdom of Valencia, for example, the Muslim population saw an increase of about 70 percent between 1563-1609. The Catholic Spanish rulers decided to expel large numbers of Muslims many of whom settled in Northern Africa.3

There is now a widespread feeling among Muslims that the territories they lost during the Spanish "Reconquista" still belong to them. That they have a right to return and establish their rule there. This is based on the Islamic idea that terrorities such as "Palestine" and Southern Spain which were once occupied by Muslims must remain under Muslim domination forever. This also applies to individuals: once a Muslim, always a Muslim. The Koran says that "apostates" must be killed. In Muslim lands Christians are not allowed to make any converts among Muslims whereas Muslim missionary activities are not restricted at all.

There are two ways to achieve the goal of re-conquering lost territories: by holy war ("jihad") or by massive emigration to the areas from where Muslims were once evicted.

Al-Qaida's claim to "Al-Andalus"

A Syrian immigrant named Mustafa Setmarian Nasar ("Abu Musab-Al-Suri") arrived in Spain in early 1985. He was a member of the outlawed Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. He joined the jihadists in Afghanistan and would later become a close associate and friend of Osama bin Laden's. Al-Suri first lived in Madrid, later he moved to Granada, a city which he liked to call "the last Muslim stronghold in Andalucia." 4

At some stage the former Syrian Muslim Brotherhood operative acquired Spanish citizenship. With his useful Spanish passport he would soon become an important Al-Qaida operative. By the mid-1990s the liberation of the "stolen Islamic land" of Palestine and Al-Andalus became an important priority for Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida. "The banner of jihad (=holy war) is raised up high to restore to our umma (=Islamic community) the pride and honor, and in which the banner of God's unity is raised once again over every stolen Islamic land, from Palestine to Al-Andalus and other Islamic lands that were lost because of the betrayals of rulers and the feebleness of Muslims," bin Laden stated in 1994.5 In January 2004 he referred to "the lost Al-Andalus."6. In February 2006 Al-Qaida's top leadership (bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri) issued a statement saying: "That your cleansed feet may soon step into our Al-Andalus which was deprived from us - soon, if Allah so wishes."7

Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri also call on Muslims to "liberate" the two Spanish enclaves in Northern Morocco, Ceuta and Melilla. Between 2002 and June 2007, they issued 37 messages in which they directly or indirectly rebuked Spain for occupying former muslim lands. The intelligence unit of the Spanish police (CGI) analysed these messages. The CGI concluded that the 37 messages were not "symbolical or general reiterations." They "must be considered as a real and explicit threat." In addition, the CGI report points to the threat posed by "the extension of the jihadist threat to the Maghreb and our geographic proximity to this zone."8 This refers, inter alia, to the formation in January 2007 of an extensive terrorist network called "Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb" (AQIM), formally known as "Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat" (GSPC). After each terrorist attack, these radicals claim that it is their mission to "liberate" Al-Andalus. Bin Laden calls on the "mujahideen" (=holy Islamic warriors) to finish off the "corrupt rulers" of Algeria, Morocco and Pakistan and to cleanse the land of the Maghreb of the "sons of Spain and France."9 And his Egyptian friend Al-Zawahiri sees the "liberation" of Ceuta and Melilla as the first step towards the "liberation" of Al-Andalus.

Al-Qaida's dream of a pan-Islamic caliphate (=Islamic state) "extending from Al-Andalus to Iraq" must be realized at all costs.10 Spanish anti-terrorist officials are worried about re-Islamization trends in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Mohammed Ahmed Ali, for example, is a prominent Spanish Muslim in Ceuta who claims that Ceuta and Melilla are "occupied cities." There are worries about infiltration by Islamic radicals. It was in 2006 that a jihadist organization in Algeria distributed a message in Arabic calling on Muslims to wage war on "the infidel Spanish state and to liberate the occupied cities of Ceuta and Melilla." 11

At the end of 2006 Morocco dismantled a terrorist network which used to send suicide bombers to Iraq. The network was linked to Al-Qaida and operated in Tetuan and near the border of Ceuta. Javier Jordan, an expert on jihadism and a professor of political science at Granada University, claimed that a young man from Ceuta was also among those who were sent to Irak. But there was no confirmation that this really happened.12

North African Islamist extremists pose a serious and continuous threat to Spanish security. Not only were they directly involved in the terrorist attacks in Madrid on March 11, 2004, but they were also involved in numerous attempts to wreak havoc on Spanish soil. The following figures illustrate this: 31.4 percent of the Muslim extremists who are in Spanish jails are from Algeria and 39.7 percent originate from Morocco. 13

Growing Muslim influence in Southern Spain

It is not just the extremists and the terrorists who lay claim to parts of Spanish territory. In a recent article the German weekly "Focus" pointed out that Muslim immigrants in Southern Spain become increasingly assertive. Muslim businessmen now own whole streets in the city of Granada. They invest large sums of money in private property and are willing to pay much more than the market price. A local butcher no longer sells traditional "Serrano ham" but "halal sheep meat." In Granada there are now parallel societies and Muslims demand that traditional Sharia law be applied there instead of Spanish law. They also demand Muslim education and special Muslim schools for their children. They even want an equal share in the money made with ticket sales for the Alhambra which they regard as part of the cultural heritage of their Muslim ancestors.

A growing number of women wear the veil or even the gloomy black "niqab" which covers most of their face. A huge new mosque has been built recently, largely paid by money donated by Muslims from Morocco, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. Muslim couples are rumored to receive extra money for children born during the marriage. The more children the more money. In this way Muslims will sooner or later demographically outweigh the Spanish population of the city. 14

It was in October 2007 that Amr Moussa, the Egyptian Secretary-General of the Arab League made a special request to the Spanish government: why should not Muslims be allowed to also worship in the cathedral of Córdoba? This building was a mosque in the times of "Al-Andalus," it later became a Roman Catholic cathedral. The Arab League now proposes that the original functions of the cathedral be partly restored and Muslims be allowed to worship there with a view to introducing the Friday afternoon prayer service. The "mosque-cathedral" should then be used jointly by Catholics and Muslims. Remember, the same Arab League showed a lot of understanding for Sudanese president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir after he was charged with war crimes and genocide by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Now the Arab League uses the fine Western forum of a "Conference on Intolerance and Discrimination" in Córdoba to launch a proposal for Muslim Friday afternoon prayers in Córdoba's cathedral. This conference, by the way, was sponsored by the Spanish socialist government which, apparently, regard "Islamophobia" as a mortal danger to society.

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratimos, however, was not so enthousiastic about Amr Moussa's proposition. He said that it was up to the church to decide about the use of the cathedral. The Bishop of Córdoba also refused to allow the followers of Allah to worship in the cathedral because that would create confusion. Moratimos said that what the Catholic Church did was quite right. 15

According to the British daily newspaper "The Independent" Spanish bishops "are alarmed by ambitious plans to recreate the ancient city of Córdoba - once the heart of the ancient Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus - as a pilgrimage site for Muslims throughout Europe." "Plans include the construction of a half-size replica of Cordoba's eighth century great mosque, according to the head of Cordoba's Muslim Association. Funds for the project are being sought from the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, and Muslim organizations in Morocco and Egypt. Other big mosques are reportedly planned for Medina Azahara, near Cordoba, Seville and Grenada. The bishops of these cities are alarmed at the construction of ostentatious mosques, fearing that the church's waning influence may be further eclipsed by resurgent Islam financed from abroad." 16

A key role is being played by Mansur Escudero, a Spanish Muslim convert who is currently president of the "Islamic Council of Spain" ("Junta Islámica de España"), a major Muslim organization created by Muslim converts. Escudero claims that Al-Andalus belongs to the Muslims: "Al-Andalus will continue being Al-Andalus for Muslims of all ages. It is there. We have created it."17 Escudero is also Deputy Secretary-General of the "World Islamic Peoples Leadership" (WIPL) which happens to be rather close to Libya. "Islam will take over Europe without violent force within a few decades," said Libyan leader Moammar Khadafi in a speech aired on the Arab satellite network Al-Jazeera.18 From its crowded office "Junta Islámica" staff members took calls from Libya about an upcoming conference, two reporters wrote in the summer of 2007. 19

The Islamization of Europa and Spain is also the agenda of the WIPL. It was in June 2007 that the WIPL and the Islamic Council of Spain organized a conference in Córdoba. Apart from Muslims from the Arab world, there were also Muslims from Nigeria, Canada, Russia and Indonesia present at the conference. The Spanish national government were represented by Mercedes Rico, Director-General of the Religious Affairs Department of the Ministry of Justice.

The conference adopted a resolution calling on the Spanish government "to grant Spanish citizenship to the descendents of the Moors (Moriscos) and the Andalusians who were expelled from Spain in 1610."20 In March 2007 a "League of Families of Andalusian Descendents" was founded in Morocco. These "descendents" are supported by Mansur Escadero and his Islamic Council.

The conference applauded Spanish Prime Minister José Rodríguez Zapatero for calling for "an alliance of civilizations" asking him to restore the "historical andalusian memory." The "memory of Al-Andalus" and "Muslim Spain" could become "a great example of the alliance of civilizations." In this context the influential Islamic Council and the WIPL seek to launch "an international Islamophobia Observatory." This body is possibly intended to silence vocal critics of Islam such as Salman Rushdi, Ibn Warraq, Geert Wilders, Hans Jansen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Daniel Pipes, and others.

The Islamic Council's proposals are supported by the "Izquierda Unida" (United Left), a political coalition of leftwing socialists, greens, republicans and communists.

"Al-Andalus is a myth, (a myth) about the unity of Muslims, (a myth) about a great Muslim-dominated civilization (presented as) an alternative to the West," says Moroccan political scientist Mohamed Tozy. "Al-Qaida wants to revive this myth, but we cannot ignore the fact that after some time it will have disagreeable territorial consequences." 21

In November 2007 the Arab League endorsed the Moroccan claims to Ceuta and Melilla, putting pressure on Spain to leave the enclaves, something Spain is not willing to negotiate about. 22

In November 2007 Spanish King Juan Carlos paid a visit to both Spanish enclaves. He received an enthousiastic welcome from the cities' inhabitants who clearly wish to remain Spanish. But on the Moroccan side of the border demonstrators voiced their anger showing banners with texts like: "Ceuta and Melilla are Moroccan. Juan Carlos go." They demanded that Spain "depart from colonialism." Some demonstrators tried to enter the enclaves but were stopped by Spanish police.23 Moroccan King Mohamed VI said the visit was "an act of nostalgia reflecting a dark era." 24

National Court of Spain legalizes polygamy

That the creeping process of Islamization does not even stop at the doors Spanish courthouses is clear from a recent decision by the National Court of Spain ("Audiencia Nacional"). It was in June 2008 that this prestigious court ruled that a Senegalese Muslim immigrant who had more than one wife was entitled to Spanish citizenship. Ndiaga Diop arrived in Spain in 1991. He lives in the Spanish town of Almería, not very far from Granada. He has two wives and six children in Senegal, a Muslim country where polygamy is part of the national culture and tradition - as is the case in many other African countries.

When Diop applied for Spanish citizenship in 2002 his application was denied by the Ministry of Justice on the grounds that he had more than one wife. This was not in accordance with Spanish "basic social principles." The maximum sentence for polygamy under the Spanish penal code is only one and a half year, hardly a deterrent for committed polygamists from Africa. And Diop is a just another example of such a man. He appealed to the National Court of Spain and won. The court ruled that Diop had adapted himself to his new society, that his behavior did not negatively affect the "public order" and that the Spanish law respects his convictions.

Diop's lawyer Marcelo Quílez was jubilant. "Although he (Diop) was a polygamist, the court granted him Spanish nationality," 25he said. Diap is now entitled to bring his wives and children into the Spain - in the context of "family reunification."

The National Court of Spain fails to take into account that this ruling sets a highly worrying precedent. There are thousands of African illegal immigrants in Spain who are also married to more than one wife. Will they be entitled to Spanish citizenship, too? The court's ruling also reflects a dangerous trend in Spain and some other European countries. A trend which allows judges to decide that non-Western cultures and traditions take precedence over national laws based on Western values. Values which can only be ignored at our peril. Today, a judge may rule that polygamy is alright, tomorrow another judge may rule that female circumcision and wife-beating are alright because we must "respect" the cultures and traditions of non-Western immigrants. Some defense lawyers even argue that judges should show understanding for the motives and cultural habits of those immigrants who commit "honor crimes."

Susan Moller Okin severely criticized the "multiculturalists" who by emphasizing "group rights" and "minority cultures" in fact destroy Western freedom, society and values. She also blames some European governments: "During the 1980s the French government quietly permitted immigrant men to bring multiple wives into the country, to the point where an estimated 200,000 families in Paris are now polygamous." 26

The lax attitude of European governments and judges will not help to solve the huge problems caused by non-Western immigrants. On the contrary, such an attitude seriously hampers their much needed integration into society.

© 2008 Emerson Vermaat. All rights reserved.

Emerson Vermaat is a Dutch investigative reporter specialized in crime and terrorism. His website is: Emerson Vermaat.com

1. Memri Special Dispatch, July 27, 2008, No. 2003, Egyptian Islamic Preacher Amr Khaled: Within 20 Years Muslims will be majority in Europe. Excerpts from an interview on Dream 2 TV, May 10, 2008.

2. Timesonline, May 8, 2008 ("Churchgoing on its knees as Christianity falls out of favour").

3. Ulrich Haarmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Welt (Munich: Verlag C.H. Beck, 1987), p. 321, 322.

4. Brynyar Lia, Architect of Global Jihad. The Life of Al-Qaida Strategist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri (London: Hurst & Company, 2007), p. 55, 106; Emerson Vermaat, Mustafa Setmarian Nasar: A close friend of Bin Laden's and Al-Zawahiri's, published in: Militant Islam Monitor, December 4, 2005.

5. Bruce Lawrence (Ed.), Messages to the World. The Statements of Osama bin Laden (London/New York: Verso, 2005), p. 14.

6, Ibid., p. 227.

7. El País (Madrid), June 17, 2007, p. 32 ("Los communicados de Al Qaeda"). <>8. Ibid. ("La aparación de 'yihadistas' de segunda generación desata la alarma policial"). CGI report "Evolución de la amenaza del terrorismo islamista en España."

9. El Mundo (Madrid), December 12, 2007, p. 3 ("Al Qaeda a la Puerta de Europa").

10. El País, April 15, 2007, p. 7 ("El Sueño de Al Andalus").

11. Ibid. See also Aaron Hanscon, The Jihadist dream to liberate Spain, Frontpagemagazine.com, December 25, 2006.

12. El País, January 2007, p. 8 ("Marruecos desmantela una red que enviaba terroristas suicidas a Irak").

13. El País, April 15, 2007, p. 7 ("El Sueño de Al Andalus").

14. Focus (Germany), June 30, 2008, p. 136, 137 ("Allah in Andalusien").

15. El Mundo, October 10, 2007, p. 22 ("La Liga Arabe reivindica el uso para los musulmanes de la mezquita de Córdoba"). Moratimos: "Lo que haga la Iglesia Católica estará bien hecho." Yet, it was Moratimos who initiated this conference.

16. The Independent, January 5, 2007, internet ("Spanish bishops fear a rebirth of Islamic kingdom").

17. Geoff Pingee and Lisa Abend, Spain's New Muslims, published in: The Walrus, August 4, 2007, internet.

18. WorldNetDaily, May 3, 2006 ("Gadhafi: Islam taking over Europe").

19. Geoff Pingee and Lisa Abend, op. cit.

20. El Mundo, June 21, 2007, p. l, 3, 22 ("El islam invoca tesis de Zapatero pro de la 'memoria histórica andalusi'"). All information about this conference is based on this article.

21. El País, May 14, 2007 ("Hasta dónde llega la amenaza islamista sobre Al Andalus?")

22. El Mundo, November 9, 2007, p. 21 ("Marruecos condiciona una 'buena' relación con España a un diálogo sobre Ceuta y Melilla"). "La Liga Araba brindó su 'apoyo total' a los 'derechos legitimos' de Rabat sobre Ceuta y Melilla." Spanish Deputy Prime Minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega: "No hay nada que negociar."

23. El Mundo, November 6, 2007, p. 11 ("Mas de 1.000 marroquíes, contra la visa en la verja de Melilla." "Protestas al otro lado de la frontera"). There were also about 1000 Moroccans who demonstrated at the Moroccan border with Ceuta. So the total number of demonstrators was about 2000.

24. El Mundo, November 7, 2007, p. 1 ("Mohamed VI dice que la visita es 'un acto nostálgico de una era sombría'").

25. El País, June 6, 2008, p. 43 ("La Audiencia da la nacionalidad a un senegalés que fue polígamo").

26. Susan Moller Okin, Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women? (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), p. 9, 11.


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