2004 Attacks Still Poison Spain’s Politics

2004 Attacks Still Poison Spain’s Politics

SEVILLE, Spain -- "Ridiculous! Nobody takes that seriously," laughs Santiago, the young Spanish tourism executive, when asked to comment on Osama bin Laden´s references to reclaiming Spain´s once Moorish province of Andalusia. "The city of Seville expelled the Muslims in 1248, even before they were driven out of the rest of Andalusia. The threat is not worth discussing."

Bin Laden has in the past called for an Islamist takeover of what he calls "al-Andaluz" as the center of a restored Caliphate, a single Islamic state, one nation under Allah stretching from Indonesia to southern Spain that would contain 1.5 billion people. Far fetched as this vision seems to westerners, a terrorist attack in Spain two years ago, widely attributed to al-Qaida, bin Laden´s terrorist organization, has left a stubborn scar on that country´s politics that refuses to heal.

The visual reminders of the Muslim presence linger in this historic city, incidentally. Seville Cathedral, while a marvel of Catholic splendor internally, is dominated by a towering square minaret-turned-bell tower. The high, onion-shaped arched entrance is another remnant of the mosque that once stood on the same ground, with a massive wooden door covered in familiar oriental geometric carvings.

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