Ramadan prayers at the feet of Virgin Mary statue spark outrage in Granada

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THE MUSLIM community in Granada observed Ramadan last Saturday evening, praying at the site of a Virgin Mary statue.

The event, which took part in the Jardines del Triunfo and was promoted by the city with signs that read ‘come and know Ramadan,’ has sparked outrage among Granadian politicians, with a far-right party calling on Catholics to respond with a ‘night of prayer’ at the same site.

Although the event was sanctioned by the City Hall and welcomed by Mayor Francisco Cuenca as an act promoting Granada as a ‘city of co-existence and tolerance,’ others took issue with the chosen location, as the Virgin Mary statue situated in the gardens is cherished by Catholics in the city.

Several politicians took to Twitter to express their outrage, including MP Luis Salvador.

‘Mr. Paco Cuenca confuses tolerance and religious respect with provocation. Call for Muslim Prayers at the Virgin of Triumph?’ tweeted Salvador.

That sentiment was echoed by politician Manuel Olivares, who took to Facebook to call the city’s decision ‘regrettable,’ as well as ‘incomprehensible’ and ‘disrespectful.’

The far-right VOX party called for an ‘act of reparation’ to take place in the park on Tuesday evening, during which Catholics would recite the rosary.

In a statement, the party said the event is for ‘those who show their faith and defending the customs, values, and culture inherited from our parents.’

‘And to protest against the council of this municipality who, by action or omission, have given permission and consent to a symbolic public space being taken over by the Muslim community.’

Meanwhile, the Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol (PSOE) councilor in Granada, Jemi Sanchez, defended the event saying ‘multiculturalism can never be a threat, it is an added value.’

‘For the first time, the City of Granada supports its Muslim community wishing them a happy Ramadan in the gardens of Triumph,’ she wrote on Facebook. ‘[It is something] unprecedented that brings us closer and makes us more equal.’

Sixty-eight percent of Spaniards identify as Roman Catholic, according to a 2016 report from the Centre for Sociological Research.

Granada was under Islamic rule for almost 800 years, until a reconquest took place in 1492 during the reign of Catholic King Fernando and Queen Isabel.

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