Thursday, July 22, 2004

Spain: statue of the "Moor Slayer" to remain

The authorities at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela have decided not to remove the statue of St. James the Moor Slayer after the plan provoked a wave of protest.
The statue, an 18th-century work by Jose Gambino which depicts St James on a white charger hacking off the heads of Moors beneath his rampant mount's hooves, was deemed to be offensive to Muslims.

[...] The Spanish press reported that terrorist bomb attacks on Madrid trains in March had precipitated the withdrawal of the statue.

The Spanish national newspaper, El Mundo, said: "According to our sources the authorities fear that the image could attract the anger of the Arab world in a period of high tension."

The plan was to put the statue in a museum and replace it with a less provocative effigy, one of St James the Pilgrim.

[...] St James, of whom bloodthirsty statues abound throughout Spain, has been a figure of veneration since he appeared on a white cloud at the battle of Clavijo in 844 and spurred Spanish soldiers on to victory against the Moors.

[...] The dictator Gen Francisco Franco once sent his only Moroccan general, Mohamed ben Miziam del Qasim, to make the offering [on the saint day]. Sensitive officials covered the base of the statue with cloth to hide the decapitated heads of his compatriots. (source)
St. James is the patron saint of Spain ... and of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.