Right wing Christian demagogues in the United States are now demanding that the construction of Muslim religious centers be banned in certain places. One of the places they’re seeking to make Muslim worship illegal is Manhattan, where they’re campaigning to block the creation of the Cordoba House, a community center that, it’s said, will include a mosque.
The name Cordoba House is significant, because it harkens back to the history of the city of Cordoba in Spain. Until the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, Cordoba was a city under Muslim control, but it was a welcoming home to many Christians and Jews as well as Muslims. There was religious freedom within the city, and Christians and Jews were allowed self-rule.
Today’s right wing Crusaders say that the name Cordoba House is meant to suggest, in code, that there will soon be a Muslim conquest of the United States, but that’s just not in accord with the actual history of Cordoba. On the contrary, the name Cordoba House suggests a hope for a peaceful coexistence among members of all people, regardless of religion. If the name is a code, it’s a code for freedom of religion. Maybe that’s what disturbs America’s right wing Christians so much.
Those who are tempted to support a purge of Muslims from New York City should remember the fate of Cordoba. 518 years ago today, after Ferdinand and Isabella had driven the Muslims out of Spain, they forced the Jews to leave Cordoba, and all Spain, as well. Spain was to be a Christian nation.
It was a foreshadowing of long years of religious violence to come. Ferdinand and Isabella’s descendant, Bloody Mary, turned her great grandparents’ religious wrath against other Christians in England while Spain continued to battle against other Christian nations, and to torture in the name of Jesus through its infamous Spanish Inquisition. The anti-Jewish actions of Ferdinand and Isabella were a part of a long history of European antisemitism that led to the Nazi Holocaust just seven decades ago.
Those who claim the United States of America as a Christian nation, and seek to enact purges against non-Christians, would bring us back to the horrors of Christian theocracy in Europe. Today, we ought to remember that in 1492, Columbus wasn’t the only one sailing the ocean blue. Jews were doing it too – looking for a new home, on pain of death.