Susana Díaz, the Socialist who presides over the Junta of Andalucia in southern Spain, remarked on January 8 that the so-called Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba should become public property and that its current use as a Christian place of worship continue only if the Catholic Church restores the word ‘mosque’ from its title. Since at least 2000, Muslim campaigners have demanded that their co-religionists be allowed to worship according to Muslim rites in the cathedral. Diaz serves in a position that is equivalent to that of a state governor in the United States.
In response, the cathedral council issued a statement on January 11 that repudiated Diaz’s demands. According to the statement, international and Spanish law have declared that the Catholic Church has been the owner of the cathedral since at least 1236. Spain’s Minister of the Treasury declared as much, said the statement, in April 2014. That the church registered the property in 2006 was merely an affirmation the Church’s ownership of the property for nearly six centuries. In addition, the Junta of Andalucia signed in 1991 an agreement that recognized the ownership of the property.
However, the statement offered thanks to Diaz for her praise of the upkeep of the national monument by the Catholic Church. The Church officials also thanked her for clarifying some observations made by Rafael Rodríguez – the tourism chief for Andalucia. In December 2014, Rodríguez denounced the Church for calling it simply "The Cordoba Cathedral" on its website, as well as on informational material and tickets. He expressed the fear that it would suppress tourism. Church officials replied that the number of visitors continues to increase, who come to see an architectural jewel where both Christian and Muslim elements are combined. It is considered to be one of the most significant tourist sights in Europe.
Officials at the cathedral deny that the official title of the church-owned property has ever been officially known as ‘Mosque-Cathedral”. Known as Santa María de Córdoba since the 13th century, it was transformed from a mosque into a church after King Ferdinand III captured the city from the Muslim caliphate. Muslims had torn down a Catholic church built by Visigoths during the First Millenium, and built one of the finest mosques in the world on its ruins.
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