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Spanish report
by Euro Reporter
2014-05-15 11:59:55
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Spain replays Muslim-Christian wars - for fun

Although less well-known abroad than other folk festivals in Spain, like the bull-running in Pamplona, far more people flock to see dozens of picturesque towns and villages re-enact the eight-centuries-long struggle for control of the country, between followers of Christianity and Islam. To the revellers thronging swaths of Spain every summer, the Moors and Christians events are simply an annual highlight, a way to have fun while taking pride in the country's rich history. The Muslim community is resigned to what they see as an uncomfortable reminder of how non-Christians were once persecuted. In Petrer, 40km inland from the Mediterranean port of Alicante, elaborate period costumes costing thousands of Euros are already on display in shop windows, ready for the 400th anniversary edition of the festivities which will take place between May 15 and 19. A tenth of Petrer's population of 35,000 belong to 10 groups known as comparsas, half of whom dress up as Moors, the other half as Christians, for two parades which last four hours each and for which the rest of the town turns out in force. In the first parade, the Moors symbolically come out on top, in the second, the Christians win.

The festivities go on all night, during which traditional and modern music are played and each comparsa plies visitors with food and drink at their specially built mini-headquarters. Key to the re-enactment is Petrer's hill-top castle, which was originally built during the Islamic period in the 12th century CE, when the town was known by the Arabic name of Bitrir. Christian King James I of Aragon took the castle in 1265, although as local historical novelist Veronica Martinez explains, he did so without bloodshed. "There was no battle at all. While there had been a revolt by the town's Muslims because their customs weren't respected in accordance with an earlier treaty, the two sides parleyed and reached a deal," she said. "Both groups have equal standing in the festivals. There is respect all round." The town's Muslim and Christian communities then lived side by side without incident until 1492, when all non-Catholics in the then newly united Spain were ordered to convert or leave the country, and forfeit their property. Converts stayed on until 1609, when they too were banished. Spain's modern Muslim community maintains that the very term "Moor" perpetuates a historical inaccuracy, by treating their forerunners as if they were somehow alien because they practised another religion.

Ahmed Bermejo, the imam of the mosque in Granada, says that hatred towards Muslims in Spain is now long gone, and that the Moors and Christians festivals are instead motivated by yearning for bygone glories of the Spanish Empire. "We Spaniards have little cause for joy nowadays, other than that garnered by the national football team and (tennis player) Rafael Nadal, among others," he said, recalling that Spain has suffered from an economic crisis and chronic unemployment since 2008. "Of course, we don't support celebrating the festivals and believe there should be no room for them in modern Spain, but we all know that the Catholic Church still holds sway in our country and it is very difficult to change tradition." Spaniards are indeed keen on re-enacting the history in which their country is steeped, due to its having been a crossroads for every major European and North African civilisation or power for the last 3,000 years.

As an example, every year nearby Cartagena relives the days back in 285 BCE when it was the second city in the Carthaginian Empire, and Hannibal stopped off there before leading troops mounted on elephants in their famous bid to conquer Rome. "The Moors and Christians festivals are staged as a historical representation of what happened in Spain - and in particular, in our town, eight centuries ago, without trying to take it out of context. It's our history, although a party is still a party," Antonio Torres, a spokesman for the Petrer festival's organising committee, said. The festivals are also an important draw for tourists, whose spending makes up a vital part of the economy in the Alicante region and of a whole industry which, on the national level, is the main driver in Spain's fledgling recovery from a persistent recession.


Isabel Carrasco, politician in Spain's governing People's party, shot dead

A prominent politician from Spain's governing People's party was shot and killed on Monday afternoon as she was crossing a footbridge over the Bernesga river in the northern Spanish city of León. Isabel Carrasco, 59, who led the provincial government in León, was shot several times in broad daylight as she walked the short distance from her home to the local party headquarters, said Ramiro Ruiz Medrano, the central government's representative in the region. Witnesses heard several shots just after 5pm. "We thought they were firecrackers," one man told El País. "At that time the area is full of people, kids playing and lots of people walking their dogs." Police have arrested a woman, 55, and her daughter, 35, said Ruiz Medrano, adding that they are the wife and child of a police inspector from the nearby town of Astorga. A source at Spain's ministry of the interior dismissed suggestions that the killing was politically motivated, saying instead that the daughter had been recently let go from her job at the provincial government and "a personal grudge" may have played a role. The killing came in the final weeks of campaigning before the European Parliament elections on 25 May. As news of Carrasco's death spread across the country, political rallies held moments of silence and cancelled their campaign acts for the rest of the day.

PP politician Esteban González Pons called the loss of Carrasco, who had led the party in the León province since 2004, "irreparable." The party, he said, was "disoriented". Isbael Carrasco was a strong and courageous woman … We have few politicians in Spain with the courage of Isabel Carrasco." The party, he added, would be suspending most of its campaign activities on Tuesday as well, but had yet to decide on whether they would participate in a candidates debate scheduled for Tuesday night. The region has declared three days of mourning for Carrasco, a career civil servant who became head of the provincial government in León in 2007 and who the Diario de León noted was "the most powerful woman in León during the last decade." Residents and local politicians gathered at the crime scene to pay their respects, many of them expressing shock at a level of violence not seen since the Basque separatist group Eta declared an end to its armed activity in 2011, turning the page on nearly four decades of high-profile assassinations.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who reportedly was travelling to León on Monday night, released a statement slamming what he called a "vile" act. "Along with my most firm condemnation, I want to highlight that the forces and security bodies of the state, as well as the implicated administrations, have been working since the first moments to clarify the circumstances of this miserable crime and bring its author or authors to justice." He added, "In these hours of anguish for those who knew and loved Isabel Carrasco, I would like, on behalf of myself and the government of Spain, offer our solidarity to her family and loved ones, as well as share our repulsion at the violent homicide that ended her life."


Bare-naked lovers caught in the act next to ATM in Spain

They took off everything but their socks. And then they copulated against a cash machine. Two people in Spain left their clothes in piles and then got down on the floor of a bank lobby and bonked, The Sun of Great Britain reported Wednesday (subscription needed).

People walking by the well-lit foyer in Oviedo took selfies of the pair, with the man’s naked bottom in full display. The cops eventually came, and an officer was heard shouting “Get up and get dressed. You know this is not the proper time or place to be getting up to this,” the tabloid reported.

Police took down their identification details, but did not arrest them. They were forced to put on their clothes, however, before doing the walk of shame out of the lobby.

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Emanuel Paparella2014-05-15 15:58:58
Regarding the last report: in philosophy it is called reductionism: you take the higher and reduce it to the lower. Once the human being has been reduced to the level of an animal (with a superior brain)then it should come as no surprise that he begins to act like one. After all dogs copulate in the streets any time they feel like.

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