Muslim supremacists seem to have fantasies -- as well as a long history -- of converting Christian sites to Islamic ones. Take, for example, Saint-Denis, the Gothic cathedral named for the first Christian bishop of Paris who was buried there in 250, and the burial place of Charles Martel, whose victory stopped the Muslim invasion of France in 732. Now, according to the scholar Gilles Kepel, this burial place of most of France's kings and queens is "the Mecca in Islam of France". The French Islamists are dreaming of taking it over and replacing the church bells with the call of the muezzin.
In Turkey's greatest cathedral, Hagia Sophia, a muezzin's call recently reverberated inside the sixth-century church for the first time in 85 years.
In France, Muslim leaders called for converting abandoned churches into mosques. thereby echoing The late writer Emile Cioran once predicted of Europe: "The French will not wake up until Notre Dame becomes a mosque".
Now it is the turn of Spain's greatest Catholic site, the Cathedral of Córdoba. Spanish "leftists" and secularists would now, it seems, like to convert to Islam the cathedral of Córdoba, the symbol of a time when "Islam was on the verge of turning the Mediterranean into a Muslim lake". Now that Islam is again conquering large swaths of the Middle East and Africa, is it not a coincidence that this campaign is gaining ground?
In 550 the Cathedral of Córdoba was a Christian basilica, dedicated to a saint; then, in 714, it was occupied by the Muslims, who destroyed it and converted it into the Great Mosque of Córdoba during the reign of Caliph Abd al Rahman I. The site was returned to Catholic worship by King Ferdinand III in 1523 and became the current great Cathedral of Córdoba, one of the most important sites of Western Christianity. Now an alliance of secularists and Islamists are trying to turn the church back to Islamic worship.
The Wall Street Journal called it deconquista, playing with the word reconquista, the time when Spain was returned from Islam to Catholicism. "The Great Mosque of Córdoba" is what UNESCO -- also torturing, upending and turning history on its head to rewrite the past of Jerusalem and Hebron -- calls it. In the last six centuries, however, only Catholic mass and confessions have been officiated there. The WSJ charges "left-wing Spanish intellectuals" with trying to "de-Christianize" the site.
The main altar of the Cathedral of Córdoba. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/© José Luiz Bernardes Ribeiro / CC BY-SA 3.0)
A recent Islamic State map of domination includes not only the Middle East, but also Spain. ISIS calls it "Al-Andalus". Gatestone's Soeren Kern, among others, has detailed ISIS's call to retake Spain. Osama bin Laden, who targeted Spain in a terror attack in 2004, frequently referred to Al-Andalus in his videos and speeches. Daniel Pipes has further explained, "even centuries after the reconquista of 1492, Muslims continued to long to recreate Muslim Andalusia". Bin Laden's heir, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also weighed in: "The return of Andalus to Muslim hands is a duty for the umma [Muslim community]". Syrian Jihadists call Spain "the land of our ancestors". In Islamic symbolism, Córdoba is the lost Caliphate.
It is self-destructive and surreal that Spanish secularists -- those who claim to care about separation of church and state -- are now supporting Muslim supremacists in their "reconquista of the Mosque of Córdoba".
The recent wave of immigration has brought many Muslims to Spain; the Islamic Spanish population has almost doubled from about a million in 2007 to 1.9 million today. 350,000 people signed a petition promoted by the Spanish "left", calling for the expropriation of the Christian building. Political authorities in Córdoba dealt a blow to the Catholic Church's claim of ownership of cathedral by declaring that "religious consecration is not the way to acquire property". But this is how history works, especially in the lands where Christianity and Islam fought hard for dominion. Why are secularists not pressing Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to give Christians back the Hagia Sophia? No one has raised an eyebrow that "Christendom's greatest cathedral has become a mosque".
The Spanish "left", governing the region, would like to convert the church into "a place for the meeting of faiths". Nice ecumenical words, but a death trap for the Islamic domination over other faiths. In 2010, a group of Muslim activists tried to pray inside the building. To raise support from American Catholics, the Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernández González, recently explained that the law of Andalusia would allow the expropriation of the cathedral if a court ruled that the Catholic Church failed to preserve the building. "It has become fashionable on the left to romanticize the Islamic past of Spain", noted the Wall Street Journal.
"The Catholics of the Reconquista are thought of as crude fanatics, whereas the caliphate is presented as a haven of tolerance and learning where Jews and Christians—never mind their second-class status—lived side-by-side with Muslims in happy convivencia. Barack Obama even cited Andalusia as an example of Islam's "proud tradition of tolerance" during his 2009 speech in Cairo".
Our secular establishment in the newspapers, universities and popular culture damns the Crusades as a proof of Western guilt towards the Islamic world. The Western attempt to free Jerusalem in the Middle Ages has been condemned as Christian imperialism, while the Muslim campaigns to colonize and Islamize the Byzantine Empire, North Africa, the Balkans, Egypt, the Middle East and most of Spain, to name but a few, are celebrated as a season of enlightenment. Nobody, however, seems to have any concern about Islamic muezzins rising from the roofs of many cities in the West. While the West whips itself for slavery, it never raises any questions about slavery in the Islamic world, currently in full force (although officially "abolished") in Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, and West Africa, among other places.
The question about Córdoba's cathedral now on everyone's lips is: Who will fund the campaign to bring Islam back to the great Christian site? The answer is Qatar. The emirate is supporting the campaign of Islamic organizations to convert the church to Islam. The Middle East is full of churches transformed into mosques, such as the Omayyad of Damascus, Ibn Tulun of Cairo, and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral in Istanbul. Islamists are now eager to do the same in Córdoba. The Catholic Church has taken a position. As the Bishop of Córdoba, Demetrio Fernandez, said, "sharing the space with Muslims would be like a man sharing his wife with another man".
An analyst at the Spanish Institute of Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defense, Colonel Emilio Sánchez de Rojas, recently gave a lecture in which he explained that Córdoba is "a reference for Islam". He charged Qatar and Saudi Arabia with "campaigns of influence in the West", and as "a source of funding for the campaign for the re-Islamization of the Cathedral in Córdoba".
If these Islamists, supported by the militant secularists, will be able to bring Allah back inside the Cathedral of Córdoba, a tsunami of Islamic supremacism will submerge Europe's decaying Christianity. There are thousands of empty churches just waiting to be filled by the voices of muezzins.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.