CAIRO – Dealing a blow to the Catholic Church, local authorities in the Spanish city of Cordoba rejected the church claims of legal ownership of the mosque, saying that the site’s true owners are each and every citizen of the world.
A report, drawn up by the city council’s secretary general, Valeriano Lavela, declared that “religious consecration is not the way to acquire property,” The Guardian reported.
Lavela’s report put an end to a long-running dispute over the ownership of the mosque.
For years, the Catholic Church has been trying to blackout the Islamic history of Cordoba mosque, established centuries ago.
At the historical religious site, visitor’s leaflets include misleading information by ignoring reference to the 500-year-old history of the mosque.
Moreover, the entry tickets to the historical site include a statement that read, “Welcome to the Santa Iglesia Cathedral”.
The Great Mosque of Cordoba was built between 784 and 786 during the reign of caliph Abd al-Rahman I.
Serving as a place for Muslim prayers for five centuries, the mosque was consecrated as a church since Ferdinand III, the king of Castile, took Cordoba from the Muslim rulers in 1236.
However, the place is still being called by both Spaniards and tourists as mosque, not cathedral.
The mosque became the center of debates recently after Catholic Church efforts to take it out of public hands were made public.
The church has announced its control over the religious site since 2006 without informing the government which had granted the church the right to run the site earlier.
Fierce debates erupted after it emerged that the local archbishopric is in the process of registering itself as the owner of the entire building – which is public property – a move that will be irreversible by 2016.
Many in the city believe this is part of an effort by the Córdoba Catholic authorities to suppress the monument’s Islamic identity.
Putting an end to disputes, Lavela wrote that the church’s acquisition has no legal basis and cannot confer ownership. This, he adds, is not just because the site has since 1984 been a Unesco world heritage site “of exceptional universal value” and therefore cannot be owned by anyone.
Citing Roman law, Lavela argues that the site’s true owners “are each and every citizen of the world from whatever epoch and regardless of people, nation, culture or race”.