Christians angered by Muslims praying at Virgin Mary statue
A row has broken out in the Spanish city of Grenada, where Muslims gathered last Saturday to pray at the site of a Virgin Mary statue.
According to this report, the event, which took part in the Jardines del Triunfo and was promoted by the city with signs that read “come and know Ramadan”, sparked outrage among Granadian politicians, with a far-right party calling on Catholics to respond with a “night of prayer” at the same site.
The photo above, grabbed from a YouTube video, shows a Spanish woman at a protest that followed the Ramadan prayer event.
Although the event was sanctioned by the City Hall and welcomed by Mayor Francisco Cuenca as an act promoting Granada as a “city of co-existence and tolerance”, others took issue with the chosen location, as the Virgin Mary statue situated in the gardens is cherished by Catholics in the city.
Several politicians took to Twitter to express their outrage, including MP Luis Salvador who said:
Mr. Paco Cuenca confuses tolerance and religious respect with provocation. Call for Muslim Prayers at the Virgin of Triumph?
That sentiment was echoed by politician Manuel Olivares, who took to Facebook to call the city’s decision “regrettable”, as well as “incomprehensible” and “disrespectful”.
The far-right VOX party called for an “act of reparation” to take place in the park, during which Catholics would recite the rosary.
In a statement, the party said the event is:
For those who show their faith and defending the customs, values, and culture inherited from our parents. And to protest against the council of this municipality who, by action or omission, have given permission and consent to a symbolic public space being taken over by the Muslim community.
Meanwhile, the Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE) councilor in Granada, Jemi Sanchez, defended the event. She said:
Multiculturalism can never be a threat, it is an added value. For the first time, the City of Granada supports its Muslim community wishing them a happy Ramadan in the gardens of Triumph. [It is something] unprecedented that brings us closer and makes us more equal.
Sixty-eight percent of Spaniards identify as Roman Catholic, according to a 2016 report from the Centre for Sociological Research.
Granada was under Islamic rule for almost 800 years, until a reconquest took place in 1492 during the reign of Catholic King Fernando and Queen Isabel.
SOT, a Muslim organisation in Granada, dismissed the protest as a display of “ignorance”. A spokesman said here:
This little group of Christians does not represent the entire Catholic community. It would be a mistake to think that [the prayer] was a provocation. In fact, this act was to explain to everybody the culture of Islam.
The way to fight the ignorance is culture and information. That’s the way.
A female organiser of the event added:
We chose this site because it’s a central park in Granada and a very big place to share with all the people who accepted our invitation to join.