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Spanish Muslim group wary of efforts to open Cathedral of Cordoba to Islamic prayer

.- The Islamic organization Al-Hidaya has spoken out against efforts to allow Islamic prayer in the Cathedral of Cordoba and warned that the group behind the move, the Islamic Council, does not represent all Muslims and is merely seeking the spotlight.

In an article published at ForumLibertas.com, Omar Ribas, a Muslim from Barcelona and a member of Al-Hidaya, which represents Muslims all over Spain, expressed his disgust at “the disconcerting presence in the media of a handful of persons, openly backed by the party currently in power,” who “act like they own the name Muslim, when in reality they are alien to the community, as they only act in their own benefit, seeking to subvert and steal the spotlight.”

Ribas said the Islamic Council, a small group of Muslims in Cordoba, “represents no one but itself.” In January of 2005, he explained, the group “was expelled from the Council of the Spanish Federation of Islamic Religious Entities.”

Tolerance and respect, separate places of worship

Ribas and Al-Hidaya issued a statement emphasizing that respectful and tolerant coexistence between Christians and Muslims requires separate places of worship.

Alluding to the precedent set by the Caliph Omar who, after the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, opted not to pray in the most important church there because “if I do this, someday Muslims will use it as an excuse to take the church away from you,” the statement notes that “it is clear from this act that Christian places of worship should not be turned into mosques, and if that has happened in the past, it was against the norms of Islam.  Muslims do not want to take over the Church’s possessions.”

“We do not think therefore that it is appropriate to turn one religion’s places into those of another, nor to cause confusion by creating places in which both liturgies can take place at the same time.  The ancient aljama mosque of Cordoba in recent centuries has been a Christian cathedral, and therefore, unless the Church cedes it to Muslims voluntarily, it is a place of Catholic worship,” Ribas and Al-Hidaya said.

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