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History of Great Mosque of Cordoba being rewritten by church, activists claim

History of Great Mosque of Cordoba being rewritten by church, activists claim

Roman Catholic authorities in the Spanish city of Cordoba have been accused of “diluting” Islamic history after a new visitor center at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption played down the building’s past use as a mosque.
A report by Demetrio Fernandez, the bishop of Cordoba, claimed “cultural reductionism” had led to even earlier Christian influences on the site prior to its conversion into the Great Mosque of Cordoba being whitewashed, giving the impression that the city’s history was more Muslim than Christian.

The site has been used as a cathedral since the city’s capture by forces from the Christian kingdoms of Leon and Castile in 1236. The iconic structure of the Great Mosque was constructed on the site of a Visigothic church in 756 by the Umayyads. Some scholars believe that the Visigothic church was itself built over an old Roman temple.

“The need to redesign the entire space derives from the finding that Cordoba is marked with a very powerful cultural label: that of a Muslim city,” Fernandez wrote in his report.

“The cultural reductionism is so strong that it has the capacity to eclipse the brilliant Visigoth, Roman and Christian past, rich in artistic manifestations, which has left indelible traces in the history and the current culture of the city.”

Earlier this month, the Spanish government formally recognized the cathedral as being the property of the Roman Catholic Church, following years of debate over its future, including demands by local Muslim groups to use it for prayers.

Spanish newspaper El Pais called Fernandez’s report, and the Catholic Church’s plans for the framing of the site, an “offensive against the indisputable and evident Islamic influence of the entire monumental ensemble.”

Jose Miguel Puerta, professor of art history at the University of Granada, told the Times: “It is good to value and highlight the Jewish or Christian past of Cordoba and the mosque, but not to the detriment or at the cost of concealing the Islamic side, which, moreover, is impossible because it is the reflection of the greatest moment of splendor of the city.”

The Plataforma Mezquita-Catedral activist group, meanwhile, claimed the bishop was “diluting” the site’s Muslim past.

Fernandez has courted controversy over Cordoba’s history before, saying in 2017: “In reality, the Umayyads, the caliphs, had neither their own architects nor created a new art — it is not Muslim art.

“They went for their Christian countrymen from Damascus and brought them to Cordoba. But the art is not Muslim. It is Byzantine…the Moors only put in the money.”

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