Moors, Muslims from North Africa, invaded Iberia in 711. Over the ensuing centuries, the Moors conquered a large majority of what is now Spain. They called it Al-Andalus. Christian Spain fought back, slowly reconquering the peninsula. The reconquest was completed in 1492, when Ferdinand and Isabella took Granada. That was the same year in which they expelled the Jews, who had been in Iberia since ancient times, from their country.
Spain has now belatedly invited the descendants of the Jews who were expelled more than 500 years ago to return, taking dual citizenship if they so choose. That invitation, no doubt mostly symbolic, prompted a rejoinder from Muslims: we want to come back too!
Muslim groups are demanding Spanish citizenship for potentially millions of descendants of Muslims who were expelled from Spain during the Middle Ages.
The growing clamor for “historical justice” comes after the recent approval of a law that would grant Spanish citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492.
Muslim supporters say they are entitled to the same rights and privileges as Jews because both groups were expelled from Spain under similar historical circumstances.
As Spanish officials have pointed out, this is a ridiculous claim. Jews whose ancestors had lived peacefully in Iberia for more than a millennium were kicked out as part of the European anti-Semitism of the time. The Moors, on the other hand, were hostile invaders who conquered by the sword, but ultimately were defeated. They abandoned Spain because they lost the war. Understandably, Spain has no interest in admitting millions of new North African immigrants:
[T]he descendants of Muslims expelled from Spain are believed to number in the millions—possibly tens of millions—and most of them now live in North Africa. Observers say that by granting citizenship to all of them, Spain, virtually overnight, would end up with the largest Muslim population in the European Union.
Many Europeans have been sympathetic to the Arabs’ claim of a “right of return” to Israel. Perhaps the Spanish controversy will cause some of them to re-think that issue.
Actually, the two rights of return are quite similar. In 1948, the Arab countries that surround Israel launched a coordinated attack, the purpose of which was to destroy the new Israeli state and murder its Jewish population. Many Arabs left Israel at the time of that invasion, most voluntarily, some, probably, involuntarily. They intended to come back in triumph, but to their surprise, the Arabs lost the war and they were no longer welcome. Much like the Muslims of Al-Andalus: that’s what happens when you start a war, and then lose it.
The Muslims’ claimed right of return to Spain is an instance of the adage–was it Marx’s?–that the second time around, it’s farce.