a feature of the Granada event
A traditional parade evoking the 15th-century expulsion of Arabs from the city of Granada has stirred up a modern-day political storm in Spain.
The Toma de Granada, or “Taking of Granada”, sees participants dress up as medieval Moors and Catholics and march through the southern city on January 2nd to commemorate its Christian reconquest after eight centuries of Muslim rule.
For many, it marks a proud and significant moment in Spanish history that should be remembered. But others claim it is a jingoistic and dangerous celebration that has no place in contemporary Spain and which harks back to the ideals of the country’s fascist dictatorship.
Last Wednesday, many onlookers booed the parade as it made its way through Granada to the city’s cathedral, where medieval monarchs Fernando and Isabel are buried.
But others cheered and waved Spain’s pre-constitutional flag, a throwback to the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, who died in 1975.
Displays of extreme right-wing sentiment have become common during the Toma de Granada over the years, with those attending often seen making the fascist salute.
The trading of insults between Granada locals on either side of this historical debate has also become a feature of the celebrations, as have occasional scuffles. This year, no violent incidents were reported, although politicians from the Socialist and United Left parties boycotted the parade and supported calls for it to be stopped.
The Platform for an Open Granada, a local association, has described it as “provincial, closed, and overly traditionalist.” It also warned that the divisive nature of the parade attracts “extreme right-wing groups, causing a risk to democratic cohabitation”. The taking of Granada in 1492 after a 10-year campaign was the final phase in the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula by Spain’s Catholics after eight centuries of Muslim rule. During that time, Granada had become one of the great medieval centres of Islam and the home of the stunning Alhambra palace, which still commands a view of the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains and is a popular tourist destination.