AddThis

Share |

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Michael Portillo's 'Stepping Stones of Islamic Spain'

This afternoon Radio 4 broadcast the first instalment of a two-part documentary by Michael Portillo entitled 'Stepping Stones of Islamic Spain', in which the former MP sought to examine the role of Islam both in Spain's past and present. As in any programme of this nature, the agenda of the media personality as presenter soon became apparent: in this case, to reinforce the current dominant narrative that Al-Andulus was a positive period in Iberian history, whereas what he termed the "so-called Reconquista" was alluded to in the darkest of colours. For some reason, the aggressive military fact of the Arab invasion and subsequent conquest of Visigothic Spain in 711 did not seem to register as such with Portillo, just as today's Islamic mass demographic incursion into his paternal homeland did not appear to be a matter of concern for him.

When he was a child, recollected Portillo, Spain was "absolutely mono-ethnic", whereas now, that is no longer the case, with the greatest inflow of outsiders having occurred during the past decade with a surge in immigration not only from North Africa and the Middle East, but also from Pakistan and Bangladesh. Unlike in the UK however, there is a notable absence of mosques in Spain, despite its large and rapidly growing Muslim population. As in France and Moscow, Muslims have taken to praying in the streets, which is a phenomenon that many Spaniards understandably find objectionable. Although as in Britain Spain has its champions of multiculturalism who function as facilitators of Islamisation, many Spanish politicians, particularly it seems at the municipal level, are unwilling to offer the sorts of incentives in terms of planning permission and financial aid for the construction of mosques found in countries such as the UK, Germany and many other European states. Portillo found this hard to understand, and was astonished that Spain only possesses two purpose-built mosques, both of which are in Madrid: one built in 1988 and another in 1992. The second of these is also the largest, and like many mosques in the UK, has been built using Saudi money, which suggests that the Islamic dogma peddled inside the building is of the Salafi literalist variety.

Portillo suggested that the Spanish approach was more likely to drive Muslims into the hands of "extremists" than that pursued in Britain, which, given that we have an estimated 3,000 potentially violent jihadi militants under surveillance, seems questionable.

Although Portillo interviewed people possessing a range of different perspectives relating to Islam and Spain, his sympathetic treatment of Islam and Muslim immigrants, together with his sanitised romanticisation of Al-Andulus, revealed his prejudices, and suggest that the conclusion we will hear him deliver at the end of the next programme will include calls for the Spanish to embrace their Islamic past and to welcome Muslim immigrants. There seems to be little doubt that any Spaniard with rational objections to this process of settlement will be branded a "xenophobe" and an "extremist". However, what Portillo and other advocates of the idealisation of Al-Andulus fail to highlight is that all of the good things that flowed into Mediaeval Europe from Muslim-governed Spain originated not from within the teachings and example of Mohammed, but either from older texts - such as those of Aristotle - that had formed the bedrock of the philosophy of Classical Antiquity but been destroyed elsewhere by the anti-rational fathers of the early Church, or from the eclectic discoveries of Indian mathematicians, Zoroastrian Persia and those men of a rational bent who found themselves living in Islamically-governed countries (e.g. Averroes, Ibn Khaldun and Avicenna) whom Muslims claim, erroneously, as being exclusively "Islamic". Only an ignoramus would claim that the wealth of mathematical, philosophical, astronomical and other proto-scientific insights yielded by such men were without value, for these have indeed added hugely to the store of human knowledge, and without the application of these findings, later scientific and technological advances would not have been possible. To reject such contributions would be as absurd as the oft-quoted question "What have the Romans ever done for us?" from The Life of Brian.

However, we no longer live in the Mediaeval world, and whereas it is justifiable to enumerate and to welcome the contributions to knowledge listed above, they cannot in any sense be described as Islamic, as none of them originate in the Quran or the Hadith, but rather, from the human quest for knowledge. Today's Muslim immigrants to Spain do not bring the Spanish people lost knowledge from our shared Classical past, or revolutionary rational insights into the workings of the Universe and the foundations of the scientific method, but demands for the construction of mosques, halal slaughter and lesser rights for women. Portillo is therefore falling into a basic category error by equating the emergent rationalism that found a place within Islamically-governed Mediaeval societies, with the religious dogma of Islam itself. Surely, as an educated man, he cannot be so foolish as to be unable to distinguish the sophisticated philosophy of a polymath such as Averroes, from the wilfully ignorant dogma professed by a mass of Muslim immigrants to Spain today?

Visigothic Spain in 700 before the Islamic Invasion

12 comments:

  1. The Spanish are already getting to experience the new conquista:
    http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/2394/salt-spain-radical-islamism

    Going down the drain in more ways than one...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the link Juniper. Yet more Saudi-funded Salafi mosques. It is such a pity that we are so dependent upon oil, for what would Saudi influence be without it?

      Delete
  2. To tell you the truth I wouldn't even have a TV in the house if it wasn't for the missus. However, the other day I chanced upon the film El Cid with Charlton Heston. Made in 1961, El Cid and his mission to drive the Muslims from Spain were certainly portrayed as a force for good, while Ben Yusuf and his Moors were an army of darkness. I was surprised they showed such a film at all in these days of judicial censorship. Watch them while you still can lol! I wonder what the Spanish now think of El Cid?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've not seen El Cid for years, but do recall when I visited Valencia a long time ago that there was a picture of El Cid above the bed in the guesthouse where we stayed. Although certainly expressive of the guesthouse owners' respect for the said hero, it has to be said that it was not exactly conducive to lovemaking.

      Delete
  3. I tell you why Portillo is espousing Islam, it's because of the Barcelona Declaration of 1995 (also called Euro-Med Partnership), where the EU agreed to bring in all the Maghreb and Levant countries into the EU, with a target of circa 2010. Late 2010 was when the Arab Spring started and I believe this was the West's doing, because some country leaders didn't want to join the EU, in which case we just inflict regime change.

    Wiki doesn't tell you the facts (because it's biased) but it does give you a nice map showing the countries involved.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euro-Mediterranean_Partnership

    Here is the full declaration, it is typical EU speak in that it tries to hide the real intent of full EU membership. It mentions free trade area (just like the EEC we joined) and then goes on about cultural exchange and employment (read immigration).

    http://ec.europa.eu/research/iscp/pdf/barcelona_declaration.pdf



    Now, some people are still a bit sceptical, so let me give you one last link. The following EU Proposal was agreed in April of this year. You only need to read the first paragraph to understand it. What it says is, that Turks will be given full rights to work in the EU and full rights to claim social security. It is being staged, probably so they can slip it in without too many people noticing it. You won't find this anywhere in the mainstream media.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2012:0152:FIN:EN:PDF

    BTW, do you think that there is a lot of Polish in Britain? I do, nothing against them, just so many. Well, Turkey has roughly double the population of Poland and half the GDP. They have big families, here's a nice little graph showing how much the population has grown over the last 50 years.

    http://www.google.co.uk/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=sp_pop_totl&idim=country:TUR&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+of+turkey

    This is why you are using pro Islam propaganda, because it's coming our way, big style over the next 10 to 20 years. Somehow, I don't think I shall be retiring in Britain, not that it'll look like Britain in 15 years anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right to draw attention to Euromed Roadhog, and as you say, Portillo's piece is very much in line with the spirit of the Barcelona Declaration. I wrote a piece on this and the Arab Spring last November: http://durotrigan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/arab-spring-and-euromed.html

      Likewise, as you note with Turkey, for a long time there has been a push to get that country into the EU, with some of our MP's being the most vociferous advocates of its accession: http://durotrigan.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/mps-pushing-for-turkish-eu-accession.html

      However, although I would agree that Portillo is "using pro Islam propaganda", I do not believe that I am.

      Delete
  4. "However, although I would agree that Portillo is "using pro Islam propaganda", I do not believe that I am."

    Yes, I noticed my mistake when my comment was published. I meant they, not you. Please feel free to correct my post and delete this one. Amazing how one small typo can affect a whole post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's OK RH, I assumed that it must have been a typo. It's easily done.

      Delete
  5. I wonder if this is on iPlayer? I'll try and catch it tomorrow if it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed Ana. Unfortunately, it will only be available until this Sunday, when the second episode will be broadcast:
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01l5pls/Stepping_Stones_of_Islamic_Spain_Episode_1/

      Delete
  6. What is your evidence please for the "aggressive military fact" of the Arab invasion of Spain?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now let me see: how about starting with history?

      Delete

Comments that call for or threaten violence will not be published. Anyone is entitled to criticise the arguments presented here, or to highlight what they believe to be factual error(s); ad hominem attacks do not constitute comment or debate. Although at times others' points of view may be exasperating, please attempt to be civil in your responses. If you wish to communicate with me confidentially, please preface your comment with "Not for publication". This is why all comments are moderated.