Muslims arrested for trying to pray in Córdoba’s former Great Mosque

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From the TimesOnline (U.K.). Two Muslim tourists were arrested when they tried to pray inside Córdoba’s famous former mosque, breaking a ban imposed by the Roman Catholic Church.

Half a dozen Austrian Muslims knelt to pray at the same time in the vast marble building, which was converted to a cathedral in the 13th century after Muslims were driven from Spain.

Security guards stepped in and “invited them to continue with their tour or leave the building”, according to cathedral authorities.

When two refused a scuffle broke out and police were called. Two security guards were seriously injured. Spanish media, citing police sources, said that one of the Muslims arrested had been carrying a knife.

The two men who were detained were part of a group of 118 Austrian Muslims on an organised tour for young European Muslims. All bought tourist tickets for a tour of the cathedral on Wednesday.

The six who started to pray faced charges of disturbing public order when they appeared before a judge in Córdoba.

The clash happened as the building was filled with tourists visiting the cathedral during Holy Week when thousands flock to the town for the parades of penitents in coned hats and long robes carrying huge images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary.

In a statement Catholic authorities condemned the incident: “They provoked in an organised fashion a deplorable episode of violence.”

After being asked to stop praying, it added, “they replied by attacking security guards, two of whom suffered serious injuries”.

The Great Mosque of Córdoba was converted into a Christian church in 1236 after King Ferdinand III of Castile recaptured the city from the Moors. The building later became the modern-day Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption...

Read the full artile at the TimesOnline.

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