Pajamas Media has an eye-opening story up this morning about Islamists demanding “a piece” of Roman Catholicism in Europe. For years Muslims in Spain and elsewhere have been elbowing into the Catholic churches and cathedrals.

And a comparison with the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is apt. I visited the Hagia Sophia, the oldest Christian Cathedral in existence, and one of the great architectural wonders of the first millenium. That’s right, it is a Christian Church, but you wouldn’t know it visiting today. The minarets were erected 500 years ago, and the beautiful frescoes and mosaics that once adorned the church are all gone.

During the siege of Constantinople in 1453, Christians crowded into Saint Sophia for sanctuary during the fighting. When the Muslim armies finally broke through the lines, they began to rape, pillage, burn and kill every living thing they could find. The terrified Christians inside the great church were all killed in a bloody carnage that lasted hours. Whomever wasn’t killed in the city was enslaved. You can read about the fall of Constantinople and the Saint Sophia Cathedral here.

The Muslim conquerers didn’t like Christian names, so they changed the name of Constantinople to Istanbul. And they didn’t like Christian art either, you see, so they destroyed it all. Except in the dark corners of the Hagia Sophia, under several layers, contemporary artists discovered that they missed a little. A few fragments remain such as shown in the photo above.

Why am I so interested in the Hagia Sophia? Because our Muslim brothers are after European churches today, and we should probably all understand their history of respecting Christian churches.

“Some people wish to place us in the year 711,�? remarked Spanish archbishop Cardinal Antonio María Rouco a few years back. Rouco’s warning remains urgent today. Spanish Muslims are determined to pray in the Córdoba Cathedral, which was an important mosque during the 500 year Muslim rule of Spain beginning in 711. Luckily for Spain, the Roman Catholic Church isn’t prepared to give in to Muslim demands, as it recently revealed when it rejected a petition to the Pope from Spain’s Islamic Board for the right to share the Cathedral with Catholics.

During his trip to Turkey in November, Pope Benedict XVI refrained from praying or crossing himself when he visited the Hagia Sophia.

Heeding the warning of Islamic protestors who hours earlier had shouted “Pope, don’t make a mistake, don’t wear out our patience,�? Benedict made every attempt to avoid hurting the feelings of sensitive Muslims who feared the Pope was attempting to reclaim the Hagia Sophia’s status as a great Christian church.
(Also known as the Church of Holy Wisdom, the Hagia Sophia was converted to a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by Ottoman Turks in 1453.)

With this recent history in mind, Benedict must have found it ironic to be the recipient in late December of the letter from Spanish Muslims requesting the right to prostrate themselves in worship in the Córdoba Cathedral, which is also known as the Mezquita. Located on the site of the Visigoth cathedral of St. Vincent, the building was converted back into a church in the 13th century after Córdoba was conquered by Ferdinand of Castile.

The recuperation of places and buildings that were once mosques or sacred Islamic sites is the primary method employed by Muslims to reconquer Al-�?ndalus. So-called moderate Muslims are oftentimes more effective than extremists in gaining concessions because of their attempts to portray Western democracies as intolerant if those countries don’t cede to certain demands. This technique has been used repeatedly in the case of the Córdoba Cathedral.

Spanish Muslims have for years been petitioning for the right to celebrate Friday prayer in the cathedral. Up until now these requests have been denied, which is a good thing according to Spanish politician Gustavo de Arístegui, the nation’s foremost expert on Islamic terrorism. Arístegui explains that if this request were to be granted, it would set a dangerous precedent. Similar demands would follow in ancient mosques throughout the Iberian Peninsula. Far from satisfying Muslims, initial concessions would only serve to inspire Islamic extremists and their potential recruits.

Already plans are underway by Spanish Muslims to construct what is being conceived as a ‘European Mecca’ in Córdoba, which was the capital of Al-�?ndalus. According to the Spanish newspaper ABC, a new mosque funded by Saudi Arabia would be the second largest in the world. While Córdoba’s city council has twice denied the request to build such a mosque in a city with 1,000 Muslims, the Andalusian city of Seville has granted permission for a new mosque to be built on council land near the Los Bermejales district. But local residents, aware that 100 mosques already exist in Andalusia, have obtained a court order court order halting construction of the mosque.

And I thought that Muslim expansion had been defeated in Spain 1000 years ago. The full story is here at Pajamas Media.