Tuesday, July 27, 2004

The Tragedy of Al Andalus Explained

This week's The New Yorker carries an in-depth article by Lawrence Wright on the Madrid attacks (with minute-to-mintue facts on the day itself), and asks about the true motives of the Al Qaeda cell, focusing on Spain's history and part of the Arab world during the period of Al Andalus:

Al Andalus is the Arabic name for the portion of Spain that fell to Muslim armies after the invasion by the Berber general Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711. It includes not only the southern region of Andalusia, but most of the Iberian Peninsula. For the next eight hundred years, Al Andalus remained in Islamic hands. “You know of the Spanish crusade against Muslims, and that not much time has passed since the expulsion from Al Andalus and the tribunals of the Inquisition,” Fakhet says on the tape. He is referring to 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella completed the reconquest of Spain, forcing Jews and Muslims to convert to Catholicism or leave the Iberian Peninsula. “Blood for blood!” he shouts. “Destruction for destruction!”

Were these the true goals of Al Qaeda? Were the besieged terrorists in Leganés simply struggling to get Spain out of Iraq, or were they also battling to regain the lost colonies of Islam? In other words, were these terrorists who might respond to negotiation or appeasement, or were they soldiers in a religious fight to the finish that had merely been paused for five hundred years?
At the risk of committing a Blog faux pas, read the whole thing.