February 28, 2016
Three sets of medieval-era remains found France may turn out to be some of the earliest evidence of Muslim presence outside of the Iberian Peninsula, scientists say.
The Early Middle Ages was a period of expansion and conquest for the Arab-Islamic world, culminating in the expansion of Islamic caliphates into what was once known as Al-Andalus, or Muslim Spain. The impact of several hundred years of Islamic rule in the Iberian region has had an indelible and unmistakable influence on Spanish, Portuguese, and Mediterranean history and culture, but the period has shown little in the way of evidence of an Islamic expansion outside of the region – that is until the discovery of these new graves.
As detailed in a newly published research study, the medieval graves dating to the 8th century CE were found in Nimes, near the Mediterranean coast of France northeast of the city of Montpelier, not far from the Côte d’Azur. Researchers from the University of Bordeaux and the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research examined the graves closely, claiming that evidence of the way the remains were interred seem to be in line with Islamic funerary practices. Additionally, preliminary DNA analysis and forensic examinations of the remains made in order to determine the age and sex of the individuals in life indicate the possibility of Arab-Islamic ancestry.
The evidence is slowly but surely mounting that these graves may be Islamic in origin. The remains were found to be buried with their bodies pointing towards Mecca, a widely-established Muslim funerary practice. Genetic markers also indicate North African ancestry for the exhumed individuals along their paternal genetic line. Finally, the remains themselves have been radiocarbon dated to somewhere between the 7th and 9th centuries. Researchers have drawn some initial conclusions from this data, theorizing that the individuals interred within the graves at one time could have been Berber soldiers that had been part of the Umayyad army after the caliphate expanded into North Africa.
The authors of the new research study into the identity of these graves say that the graves may be some of the only evidence discovered to date that indicates Muslim settlement north of the Pyrenees. While there does seem to be a high likelihood that these three individuals may have been North African Muslims that had traveled to the south of France via the caliphate’s occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, how or why they came to be, by themselves, so far into what would have been Frankish territory at the time remains a mystery.
This work analyzes the explosive combination of terrorism, new information technologies and historical grievances. The recovery of Islamic rule on the Iberian Peninsula remains an essential objective for Al Qaeda and their allies. The radicals found in the Internet an opportunity to enhance and reinterpret in harsh terms the myth of a paradise taken away by force. From abundant new information, the book explains the role that Al Andalus plays in the jihadist universe is explained, details all corners of cyberspace where it is possible to find Spanish references as a vehicle to incite violence, traces back the role played by internet in the 11-M in Madrid, and delves into some of the major police operations against groups and individuals who have used cyberspace to wage jihad against Spain.
Divided into two parts, the first devoted to “Medium and Message” with the eternal justification for Al Qaeda and its franchises to hate the West as responsible for the assaults on Muslims.
The second part deals with cyber-jihadists arrested in Spain, which provides a comprehensive overview of police operations carried out against the people who have used the Internet as a means of radicalization.
This work analyzes the explosive combination of terrorism, new information technologies and historical grievances.
Manuel Ricardo Torres Soriano, Al Andalus 2.0. La ciber-yihad contra España (Granada: Biblioteca GESI). 210 pages. 2014. (ISBN: 978–84-616-7991-1)
19 September 2012
Spanish society has shown in the past year an increased public acceptance of Muslims and Islam, but still sees “a significant percentage” of rejection revelead against manifestations of Islam such as mosques and the hijab, as revealed by the Annual Andalusian Observatory Report of 2011, which coincides with the celebration of the 1,300 years of the official arrival of Islam in the Iberian Peninsula.
Among the “irrational stereotypes” that, according to the report, are still seen in Spanish society, is the belief that Muslim women who cover their hair are forced by Muslim men, that all Muslim men are “despots” who have “subjugated” their wives; that those who profess Islam are required by the Quran to “perpetuate inequality and violence” or that Islam imposes requirements and prohibitions like “capital punishment without fair trials.” Given this, the report makes clear that Muslims represent a quarter of the humanity and therefore these beliefs “can not be true”.
This, as specified, creates “an opinion that is generally Islamophobic”.
Contemporary debate over Europe’s identity increasingly refers to the continent’s Christian or Judeo-Christian heritage. But a closer look at the history books belies this theory and teaches us that for centuries, Islam and Judaism have played an integral role in shaping European history and that both religions have been regarded with deep hostility down through the centuries. By Stefan Schreiner
Whenever discussions centre on how Europe perceives itself and in particular on the continent’s values, it is still commonplace – today apparently even more so than in the past – to speak of a “Christian” Europe, or at least to make reference to its Christian roots and to emphasise the Christian character that these roots have produced. But political correctness forbids the exclusive interpretation of the word “Christian” in this context, and particularly well-meaning commentators are quick to define it instead as a Judeo-Christian tradition or Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage, which does little to improve matters.
On the contrary – upon closer inspection, this reference to Europe’s Judeo-Christian tradition or its Judeo-Christian heritage is revealed all too smartly as a transparent manoeuvre. After all, those who most vociferously reclaim a Judeo-Christian tradition for Europe generally do this with the sole aim of saying that Islam does not per definitionem belong to the continent.
From a historical point of view, however, the Christianization of Europe was an arduous process that took more than a millennium and followed anything but a straightforward course. In fact it was a process that was repeatedly dogged by “setbacks”. Essentially, the Christianization of Europe never really reached a conclusion or was properly completed. This is because at the point when the last Muslim had been driven from the Iberian Peninsula in the West, and the “last heathens of Europe” – the Lithuanians – had been converted to Christianity in the East (in the fourteenth/fifteenth century), Islam had long begun to spread back into Europe from the East and the South-East (the Balkans). Muslim communities would then maintain a long-term presence in central and eastern Europe (Lithuania, Poland, Belarus), just as they did in the Balkans.
400 years after King Philip III signed an order to expel 300,000 Moriscos – or part-Muslims who had converted from Islam to Christianity, some Muslim writers, Spanish and Moroccan campaigners are asking Madrid to apologize for the wrongs committed during the 17th century.
The anniversary highlights the uneasy relationship that still exists between modern-day Spanish and its Moorish, or Muslim past. Historians record the brutal conditions in which many were killed during forced resettlement in North Africa, and have urged the Spanish government to use the anniversary of the event to make overtures to the Islamic world. José Manuel Fajardo, a Spanish writer, said: “Mr. Zapatero has an opportunity to transform one of the most tragic episodes in the history of Spain into an opportunity for a re-encounter between the West and Islam.”
A spokesperson for the government said that there are no plans to mark the anniversary. The defeat of the Moors in 1492 and the expulsion of Moriscos from 17th century Spain is still a politically sensitive subject, with Osama bin Laden referring it in repeated calls for the restoration of al-Andalus – the former Muslim kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula.
A presenter of the Palestinian television channel Al-aqsa affirmed during a children’s programme that the Andalusia, current region of the Iberian Peninsula will be soon under Islamic rule. In the video of the programme The Pioneers of Tomorrow (now available at the YouTube site) he refers that the Islamic dominium through the will of Allah promotes love, justice and the good. More, he added that Christians and Jews had never had a better life than the one they had under Islamic power. At the end of the programme he left a message to his young viewers: they should contribute to the recovery of the Islamic glory.