King refuses to apologise for expulsion of Moors

20th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 January 2005, TETOUAN-Descendants of the Moors expelled from Spain 500 years ago failed to receive an apology from King Juan Carlos as he toured Morocco.

20 January 2005

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

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, the British Daily Telegraph reported.

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 was 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 the biographer of Lorca, Ian Gibson, 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 Gibson.

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

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

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Subject: Spanish news

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