Spain, the Once and Future Muslim Province

It’s a miracle Matthew Yglesias made it out of Spain alive in 2006. The young blogger described the dangers he confronted on his Spanish vacation in a piece he wrote for the American Prospect shortly after his return to America:

The modern city [of Toledo] features a large traffic circle just outside the medieval town walls known as the glorieta de la reconquista in honor of this distinction. But today in a new ironic twist, it is from that very plaza where the Mullahs issue their fatwas that the craven Spanish government, having chosen the path of appeasement, invariably follows. Toledo's women, who only in the recent past enjoyed basic legal equality with men albeit in the context of a culture that was highly traditionalistic by American standards, now fear to walk the streets unveiled. Spain's historic wine industry groans under the crushing yoke of the Islamists' informal power, the riojas of the past but a fading memory.

Yglesias was obviously writing with tongue firmly planted in cheek. The joke, of course, was on conservative pundits in America, who had predicted devastating consequences in the wake of the March 11 Madrid bombings and the subsequent electoral victory of Socialist José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. “Appeasement,” it turned out, hadn’t enabled Muslims to reconquer Granada and avenge the Moors’ loss of Al-Andalus in 1492 following more than 700 years of Islamic rule. Spain, Yglesias argued, had instead become a paragon of liberalism, with positions on gay marriage and women’s rights that America “should be so lucky as to have.” Two years after Zapatero fulfilled a campaign promise and pulled Spanish troops from Iraq, Spaniards were living in a socialist utopia -- not under sharia law.

Although Muslim extremists surely appreciate some of Zapatero’s policies -- he granted the largest blanket amnesty in Spanish history to nearly one million undocumented immigrants and thought it wise to negotiate with the Basque terrorist group ETA -- their idea of paradise is quite different from those of Spain’s “accidental prime minister.” Critics such as Matthew Yglesias seem unaware that jihadists will not rest until the caliphate is reestablished on the Iberian Peninsula because they feel compelled to reconquer any country or territory that has at one time been under the domain of Islam. Spain is the most important of these lands because it was the largest Christian territory conquered in Europe and it represented the summit of Islamic civilization. The loss of Al-Andalus was therefore the most important loss ever suffered by the Ummah (the community of Muslims). Thus, freeing Spain from an illegal and illegitimate occupation by infidels would prove that all other Islamist goals can be achieved.

Nostalgia for an idealized Al-Andalus is being passed on to the next generation. Gustavo de Aristegui, the foreign affairs spokesman for the conservative Popular Party, explains in his book The Jihad in Spain: The obsession to reconquer Al-Ándalus that, in schools throughout the Muslim world, maps are used with Spain and Portugal colored green because they are still considered part of dar al-Islam, or the House of Islam. The HAMAS children’s magazine Al-Fateh published a piece in 2006 from the point of view of Asbilia or -- as the infidels call it -- Seville: “I yearn that you, my beloved, will call me to return, together with the rest of the lost cities of the lost orchard [Andalus] to the hands of the Muslims so that joy and happiness will fill my land, and you will visit me because I am the bride of the country of Andalus.”