Islam in Spain is blossoming. In the past 10 years, the number of practicing Muslims has grown from 50,000 to more than a million, due partly to a burgeoning immigrant population. Spain, a nation known in recent history as a predominantly Catholic country, is experiencing growing pains both because of the influx of immigrants as well as the shrinking popularity of Catholicism. It's a very physical pinch: Spain's Muslims have no mosques.
It's not just the pace of growth either. Since the Madrid bombings in 2004 (almost exactly four years ago) some Spanish citizens are wary of the prospect or a growing Islamic presence thinking it a sign of potentially more extremism. Acquiring land to build a mosque has been one stumbling block, for instance in Seville, Muslims are close to obtaining a plot of land for a mosque after years of bitter local resistance, which included a 2005 protest where a pig’s head was dumped on the plot originally chosen. Change is slowly coming with some local governments now attempting to secure funds and land to create mosques for those now praying in storefronts and garages. To see the historical significance, read more.
The country has had a dramatic tug of war between these two religions, stemming back to an early eighth century conquering which transformed the Iberian Peninsula into an Islamic state. Ferdinand and Isabella drove out the Islamic army in 1492, and Catholicism became once more the dominant religion. Spain is no stranger to religious intolerance, hosting one of history's most violent pro-Catholic purges — the Inquisition — which lasted over 400 years. In this twenty-first century shift, Islam is once again becoming a major force in Spain — not at the vanguard of an advancing army, but instead quietly and peacefully at the hands of those who simply wish to practice their religion.
Should Spain be more accommodating? Is it fair to discriminate against the Muslim faith in the name of terrorism?