Spain: Moorish revival

Spain: Moorish revival

Via BBC:

A thousand years ago North African Muslims ruled southern Spain. Now some of their descendants are contributing to a "Moorish revival" that is regenerating parts of Andalucia, says the BBC's Sylvia Smith.

Sitting in Abdul Hedi Benattia's tea shop you forget for a moment where you are.

The sound of sweet mint tea being poured into tiny glasses, the murmur of Arabic in the background, and piles of almond cornes de gazelle, served to customers sitting on low sofas, all suggest Morocco or Tunisia.

This article was prepared by the Islam in Europe blog -

But step outside the shop and walk a few metres downhill and you are in Granada, Spain.

This teteria, or tea shop, is just one of dozens that festoon the historic area and have come to symbolise a significant change in the culture and economics of an important part of the city.

It was the opening of a tea shop alongside the city's first neighbourhood mosque that ignited the North African renaissance in Granada, according to Said Ekhlouf from Tetouan in northern Morocco.

He and his fellow shop owners took over empty properties, breathing fresh life into a previously run-down area.

"Before we set up shop, few people dared walk down this street, especially in the evening," he explains.

"Everything was boarded up and the only people you'd meet were junkies and prostitutes. But we have turned this street into one of the most popular."

The transformation is eye-catching. Dozens of brightly coloured, open-fronted stalls sell all kinds of Moroccan and Tunisian handicrafts, and the only music you will hear is Arabic, interspersed with the call to prayer.

Taking advantage of low property prices, the first arrivals in the 1980s colonised the Calderia Nueva and began, unwittingly, to introduce a modern version of Islamic Andalucian culture.

Abdul Hedi Benattia, who is a Tunisian historian as well as owning a restaurant and tea shop, claims that Islam as practised in Granada is very close to the original tolerant religion that spread across North Africa and through most of the Iberian peninsula from the 7th Century until the 14th Century.

"We accept our Christian neighbours and respect their traditions," he says. "We didn't set out specifically to recreate peaceful co-existence, but at times you can't help but reflect that this is exactly what has happened".


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