King Juan Carlos Snubs Moorish Plea For Apology

Roundup: Talking About History

Isambard Wilkinson, THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON), 1/20/05

Descendants of the Moors expelled from Spain 500 years ago failed to receive an apology from King Juan Carlos as he toured Morocco yesterday.

Residents of Tetouan, many of whose ancestors were driven from the Iberian peninsula by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, said an opportunity had been lost to heal an historic wound, which has become all the more sensitive in recent years.

Osama bin Laden has often talked of the tragedy of the loss of al-Andalus, the Moorish region of Spain. The terrorists who attacked Madrid last year, killing 192 people and wounding 1,900, spoke of Spain with the same sense of historic vengeance. Three million Muslims were expelled in 1501.

The king, who is on his first state visit to Morocco since 1979, cancelled his visit to Tetouan at the last minute. The official reason was lack of time but unofficially it appeared that sensitivities had arisen because Tetouan was the old Spanish colonial capital.

King Juan Carlos said in a speech earlier this week that the legacy of an Arab and Andalusian heritage was a key to"the positive image" in Spain of"Arabic culture and Islam".

The king has apologised for the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, and the descendants of the expelled Moors say he owes Muslims the same respect.

An eminent historian, Mohammed Ibn Azzuz Hakim, who has led the campaign, said:"We want moral reparations for the wounds we suffered.

"Mentally we feel linked to the same customs and history. Spanish traditions are ours too. I have traced more than 7,000 surnames in this town which derive from Spanish names."

The campaign is backed by Ian Gibson, biographer of the dramatist Frederico Lorca, and the popular historian Amin Maalouf.

"Five centuries ago they expelled Spanish Jews and Spanish Muslims. The petition to the Spanish king will hopefully change this historic injustice. They were betrayed," said Mr Gibson.

Mr Azzuz believes that the arrival of a socialist government in Spain has increased the chances of an apology.

Relations between Spain and Morocco took a serious downturn under the Right-wing government of Jose Maria Aznar.

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adam richard schrepfer - 4/13/2006

Of course one must wonder when Morocco is going to apologize for first invading Spain 800 years earlier