Saturday, 17 November 2012


When I came to Cordoba, I expected to encounter the convivencia myth in full force. I also feared, given its history, that the Muslims would make the city a prime target for re-islamisation and demographic conquest. In fact there have been few signs of that. As I walk round the streets, it's rare to see a non-European face. The convivencia myth is indeed given a vivid expression here, however.

One of the city's monuments is the Torre de la Calahorra (Tower of Calahorra), first built by Muslims to defend the city against attack (didn't work). In the 1970s, the city gifted the building to Roger Garaudy for the purpose of setting up a Museum of Three Cultures, showcasing the era of mythical convivencia in which Cordoba was the centre of the Islamic world. UNESCO provided financing for the project and the over the years the local government has invested millions in the tower's renovation and upkeep.

Roger Garaudy was a French communist intellectual who later converted to Islam and became active as a Muslim propagandist, agitating on behalf of the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians for example. In 1996, he published a book called "The Founding Myths of Modern Israel" in which he described the Holocaust as a myth, claiming that only 3.5 million Jews died, not 6 million. For this he was charged and convicted in the French courts.

Garaudy died last year, but his museum lives on. In fact, the Roger Garaudy foundation continues to actively disseminate Muslim propaganda in Cordoba, including through at least one other building I have noticed, the Biblioteca Viva Al-Andalus (Living Al Andalus Library).

I visited the Calahorra tower last week and examined the museum. It consists of a series of rooms, most of which are filled with models and replicas. Even among the artefacts on display, there is little or nothing that is authentic. Visitors don headphones and stroll through the rooms listening to the stream of propaganda (available in several languages).

Although it purports to be a museum showcasing three cultures, in fact it showcases only one culture. Guess which. You guessed right. Christians and Jews aren't mentioned much at all. When they are, it's invariably to point out how greatly they flourished under Muslim rule or, when the balance of power was reversed as the Reconquista progressed, how the good Christians were the ones who were nice to the Muslims and appreciated their "great" achievement.

The major propaganda motifs of the museum are as follows:

Islamic culture was more rational and open to challenge and scrutiny than "the theocracies of Europe".

The European Renaissance started in Al-Andalus.

Various Muslims discovered things long before the Europeans who are usually credited with their discovery (Copernicus, etc.).

The Iberian voyages of discovery were only possible thanks to Muslim knowledge and navigation instruments.

Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God. This is a recurrent theme. It sounds nice and benignly multicultural. Who could object to it? In fact, this, too, is pure Muslim propaganda. It is part of Islamic theology that the Jewish, Christian and Muslim God is the same. The so-called prophet Mohammed was, after all, supposed to be the last in a long series of Jewish and Christian prophets, bringing final perfection to their "common" religion. Of course, neither Jews nor Christians accept this. The museum is pushing Islamic theology, courtesy of the Spanish taxpayer and UNESCO.

I've stated the propaganda motifs quite starkly here. The actual presentation in the museum is more sly and insinuating than that, laced inside a syrupy, pseudo-poetic voice-over, which may well have been done by Garaudy himself.

Most of the visitors to the Muslim will naturally be clueless about any of this. They will simply assume that a museum housed in what is obviously a major city monument must have the imprimatur of the government and therefore be a trusted source of information. In fact, the museum is a conduit for Muslim propaganda conceived by an ex-Communist and convicted Holocaust denier.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Happily the towers appearance doesnt appear to be much influenced by those who commissioned its construction!

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