From suspicion of mosques in Spain

The surprise came from a headline in the Sevillian press: “Sixth attempt by the Muslim community to have a great central mosque“It turns out that the Muslims of the Andalusian capital have spent twenty years (twenty years!) Trying to build a great mosque in Seville and whenever they try, even after reaching agreements with the local authorities, end up backtracking as a result of neighborhood opposition. Communiqués, platforms, protests and demonstrations until they manage to overthrow the project or move it away, which is what it is about: nobody wants a mosque in their neighborhood, that is the underlying reality that is revealed not only in Seville, of course, but in many other cities in Spain, especially in cities in the southeastern half of the peninsula where more Muslims are concentrated.

When that headline is pulled, like the thread of a ball, we find the surprising claim that the Muslims who live among us, who are more than two million, almost half born here, consider that Spain has a ‘historical debt ‘with them that should be settled. It’s not about paranoid demands from the past, nothing to do with resurrecting Al Andalus, simply ask for compliance with the Spanish Constitution and the consequent law approved in 1992 that defends and protects the right of the Muslim community, specifically the Law 26/1992, of November 10, approving the ‘State Cooperation Agreement with the Islamic Commission of Spain’.

In times of general tension, such as the one we live in, this substratum comes to the surface in the form of mistrust or, worse, racism

The breach, or the obstruction of these rights acquired by Muslims living in Spain, range from the legal protection recognized for their mosques to the possibility of having a cemetery in accordance with the Koran to bury their dead, going through Islamic religious teaching in educational centers. All this, contained in the aforementioned law, is what leads the Muslim community to express that feeling of ‘historical debt‘that Spain has with them and that, far from being mitigated, the gap is widening with new misgivings.

It also happens that some recent episodes, such as the crisis with Morocco due to the controversy of Brahim Ghali and the subsequent programmed ‘invasion’ of Ceuta, nor the political use of immigration that the Spanish extreme right constantly jells, as is the case throughout Europe. All this, in fact, led in July to the signing of the manifesto by more than 250 intellectuals in which they showed his concern about the deterioration of coexistence due to “a worrying verbal escalation tinged with reproaches and discrepancies, which takes us back to the past”. And they add: “Recover the times of warlike conflicts in our common history and highlighting only hostility is a dangerous path that goes against human logic and of the patrimony of interreligious coexistence and cultural exchange that the riverside peoples have built during our historical stages “.

But what if it is precisely the sociological substrate of this common history that underlies the misgivings about mosques, in addition to the general concern about the appearance of possible foci of Islamist fanaticism? That cocktail is the one that should explain that there is no news about the construction of a mosque, like the one in Seville, that is not accompanied by a repeated headline: “the neighbors are suspicious …“Yes, perhaps we bear a sentimental load of suspicion towards mosques that necessarily has to do with the seven centuries of Muslim domination, which is much longer than the history of most contemporary countries. And in times of general tension , like the one we live in, that substratum comes to the surface in the form of mistrust, misgivings or, worse still, active racism.

The latest ‘Survey on intolerance and discrimination towards Muslims in Spain’ of the Spanish Observatory of Racism and Xenophobia He pointed out that Muslims, along with Gypsies, are the groups that feel the most rejection. Almost nine out of ten Muslims express it this way, they affirm that they feel this way, rejected, when they go to rent an apartment or look for a job. Just as they consider that Spaniards do not like to see a woman with a veil or that there are Muslim families that go to live in their neighborhood.

The reality is that Spaniards, compared to other neighboring countries, do not constitute a racist society

Are we Spaniards so racist? Despite all of the above, the reality is that we Spaniards, compared to other neighboring countries, do not constitute a racist society. Not even Vox’s speeches can be compared with those of the European extreme right, which goes so far as to say, as in Slovakia, that “Islamization begins with a kebab.” SlovakiaDespite belonging to the European Union that defends religious freedom, it has banned mosques throughout the country and passed a law to prevent the spread of Islam.

“Stop treating us like immigrants”

We are, in fact, very far from that, but, precisely for this reason, we should not consider an anecdote news such as the one mentioned in Seville, the entrenched resistance to the construction of a mosque, which is identical to that of many other cities. It is the exclusion and marginalization of the Muslim community that should concern us, not the opposite, as expressed by some imams and representatives of the Islamic community when they demand the “Spanishization of their identity”, as they are full citizens who work and are listed in Spain, who are born and educated in Spain. “Stop treating us like immigrants,” they say. And they are right, although we all know that the ‘Spanishization’ of Muslims It is a two-way street and the Islamic community also has to engage with Spanish society to make it possible.

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