Chris Stewart Interview – NfS Podcast 47


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Chris Stewart

This weekend we headed deep into the Alpujarras, a mountainous region south of Granada, to interview Chris Stewart, author of Driving Over Lemons, A Parrot in the Pepper Tree, and the Almond Blossom Appreciation Society. After a rather fine lunch overlooking his valley farm, we sat down to discuss topics including:

– The history of the Moors in Spain and the Alpujarras
– The Moorish influence on his lifestyle and farming techniques, including Moorish irrigation techniques
– Olive trees and olive farming around Jaen
– The similarities between the Alpujarra and Morocco
– The writing process
– Moroccan immigration in Spain and El Ejido (a town in Andalusia where many Moroccan immigrants end up working in intensive greenhouse farming).
– The African immigration problem facing Spain now, and the treatment of Moroccan immigrants in Andalusia
– … and finally, a great recipe for Gazpacho!

Hope you enjoy it! Discussion and questions are welcome in the forum.

47 thoughts on “Chris Stewart Interview – NfS Podcast 47

  1. Londinense

    Well, Chris, I think you should move over to the High Athlas. You will be feel at home there in a country were human rights prevail and workers are paid and treated so well that they prefer to remain there and not immigrate to the evil Spain where they are treated so badly.

    I stop now because I’m too excited and I could say “barbaridades” that I don’t really think.

  2. Marina

    Hi Cesar,

    I don’t know why I bother to aswer you but I feel that you are mixing two different things: The fact that emigrants from Marocco and other African countries work in awful conditions in their countries for nearly nothing does not justify that they can work in Spain in similar conditions. It would be desirable that working conditions improve in both countries, but as a Spaniard I feel particularly horrifyed of the conditions they are working in a 1st world country like Spain.

    Then I have a question. You are an Emigrant yourself, would you like to work in England if your rights were not the same as those of the English?

  3. Londinense

    Hi Marina,

    I know why I bother to answer you.

    Of course all workers should have the same rights. I’m a legal immigrant as Ben is, LEGAL and I have the same rights because I play with the rules of the game. The people arriving in “cayucos” and “pateras” know that they are unlawfully in a foreign country. They accept appaling working conditions because that is still better than being at home. It’s terrible but it is the truth.

    I recommend you, Marina, to accept it as they do. It’s their lives and don’t try to compare you with them because they are much better in El Ejido earning money and sending it home that in Rabat or Dakar.

    If you want to be Mother Teresa of Calcutta, leave Ben and go to India. I’m sure they will love your Gazpacho and your Natillas. I do.

    Ahora no tengo tiempo, pero más tarde me gustarí­a comentarte algo más sobre vuestro último programa. Solamente deciros que ha estado MAL, muy MAL, your WORST ever. Y espero que volváis a vuestro excelente nivel hasta ahora. Recibe un beso casto de tu rendido admirador.

  4. Ben Post author

    What a shame you didn’t like it Cesar, it was fine experience, and one we shall remember for some time. Africa and immigration are difficult topics, but at least we are talking about them, rather than brushing them under the carpet as so often occurs. I shall not enter into your argument now, as I know it would be ‘red rag to a bull’. Saludos.

  5. greytop

    A pity to let the issue of migration, legal or otherwise, spoil what I thought was an interesting podcast. Neither Chris, Londinense or any of us are likely to solve the former in Blog comments.
    As for the influence of the Moros on Southern Spain I found that interesting and Chris was good at explaining that & putting forward his ideas on organic farming. Perhaps a lesson to be learned is that it is better to cover one or two local (to whichever area you are in) topics in slightly more depth, rather than many topics more superficially.

  6. celia stevenson

    Another interesting podcast.Chris Stewart is incredibly knowledgeable.I shall look forward to reading his books(I have just finished reading ‘Duende’ and would like to continue with the Spanish theme!).
    How nice of him to invite you to his home.Do you know him personally?

  7. Londinense

    As I have already said anglosaxons think deep in their heart that their culture and their history are superior, even morally, to that of the hispanic countries.

    Therefore they think that catholic imposition included inquisition under Isabella and Ferdinald rule was a major crime but they forget the brutal persecution of catholics under Henry VII and his succesors and so on with many examples.

    This way of thinking is intrinsic to them no matter they Football Hooligans or Oxford Professors. So Ben and Chris, hispanófilos de boquilla or hispanistas aficionados sin estudios.

    It was certainly an act of fanatism the burning of the Alhambra Library, no doubt, but your subconcious anglosaxon soul has betrayed you, Ben, when you have said ‘certainly in Spain’.
    C’mon Ben, don’t break my balls, how many churches, painting of the Virgin Mary and other catholic symbols were burnt in the instauration of anglicanism as state’s religion in England. I truly think that your ‘certainly in Spain’is unnecessary.

    The worst of all was the silence of Marina, verdadera convidada de piedra de vuestro programa, and the accusation of racism made by Chris. But this is the subject of another comment.

  8. Lawrence

    In my view, a thoughtful and wide-ranging discussion/interview with nicely judged questions. I’m a huge fan of Chris Stewart’s books and one of my favourite holidays was spent gripping the steering wheel around the vertiginous bends of the Alpujarras in a clapped out hired car. So, it was great to hear from the man himself.
    Speaking as a paranoid Scot I didn’t detect any expression of feelings of Anglo-Saxon superiority, Londinense. Many countries have a history (and present) of religious intolerance but surely few episodes are more infamous in European history than the Inquisition. Given this and the fact that the podcasts are about Spain Ben’s comment was understandable and fair comment. Anyway, the essential point I took from the discussion, was that the West as a whole had benefited greatly at the expense of developing countries and that we should do what we can to change this situation. In other words, to move on from nationalism,religion and self-interest towards a more humanitarian view of the world.

  9. intrepida1981

    Hi, César. As a Spaniard I understand what you said about the Inquisition even I don’t know much about this story but i heard your same opinion in my school days so I understand your view fully, unfortunately I don’t have enough knowledge nor arguments to dare to discuss it;
    i like your spirited and not much accommodating attitude, such controversial topics are interesting to read, cheers

  10. Ben Post author

    @Greytop – wise words, thank you.

    @celia stevenson – we don’t know him personally, or didn’t before in any case – we got in touch via his publishers and he kindly said ‘come on down!’

    @Lawrence – how I would love to spend a couple of weeks driving around those hills too!

    @intrepida – careful, you’ll only encourage him 😉

    y @Cesar – amigo, parece que te ofendes cada vez que digo algo de la historia de España, sin hacer referencia tb a la de mi pais. “how many churches, painting of the Virgin Mary and other catholic symbols were burnt in the instauration of anglicanism as state’s religion in England.” – ¡Me da igual! This podcast is about Spain! And me saying that there has always been fanatacism here is a fair comment, ¡Por dios! And finally to your classic “…hispanófilos de boquilla or hispanistas aficionados sin estudios” – that is quite frankly offensive – ¿Tanto te jxde que la gente se enamora de tu pais?

  11. Marbella

    I’ll reluctantly break my own rule and comment here just because the forum hasn’t generated much action on this subject. I wish Londinense wouldn’t get so personal because I agree with intrepida1981, it’s good to see some spirited, non-sycophantic comments.

    I think Zapatero’s immigration policy is an unmitigated disaster for Spain. As a French minister said a few days ago, “don’t give an amnesty to over half a million illegal immigrants and then look for sympathy when thousands more turn up on your doorstep.”

    Look at this logically. There are millions of people, in Africa, India and many countries of the world, including European countries who deserve better. More people than Spain and Europe could cope with. Any moral person knows that and Chris Stewart added zilch to that debate. I suppose what he did do was a) unwisely give refuge and help to illegal immigrants b) try to take some trade through the seed business to Morocco to save a few of them making the illegal escape to Spain.

    On (b) he said that the Moroccans were useless so in a way he has given one tiny reason why Morocco is a poor country – they are terrible at business. So Spain could lend some of their business expertise to Morocco in terms of training to see if they can generate some of their own income rather than people going to Spain and being treated poorly.

    If Moroccans are in Spain illegally then they are bound to be exploited. The message that Zapatero should be putting out is “don’t come”. If you are legal then you have rights like the minimum wage, if you are illegal then you are outside the law. Simple. This happens all the time in England, not just in Spain.

    I think a massive amount of aid is given to Africa. Yes, Lawrence, there is self-interest in Spain and the UK but we don’t gain anything for Africa by destroying our own economies. We could always do more but ask the Spanish housewife if she wants to pay double for her fruit and veg so illegal immigrants in El Ejido can be better treated? Put up income tax so foreign aid from Spain and the UK can go up from well under 0.5% of GDP? No party would be elected on that manifesto. It is not just a question of cash. Corrupt African regimes squandering the aid that is given to them. African countries fighting wars with each other when their people are starving. Is this our fault in Spain or England?? I really tire of the argument that Africa is our problem because we are only interested in ourselves. I just wonder how much you would personally give up to ensure that an illegal Moroccan immigrant had a better life? Personally, there are limits to what I would do, which might sound heartless but I have to put my own family first.

  12. Rafe

    Another great podcast from Ben and Marina, well done!Chris Stewart paints a very interesting and poetic picture of \\\”Al Andalus\\\” and of life there now.What a hornets nest you’ve srirred up though! Does Cesar always sound so self pitying? Surely the point about the fall of Granada is that it marked the near destruction of an entire culture. We might ask today why couldn’t the Catholic kings simply have said to the Muslims and Jews \\\”we are in charge now, you live and work here under us\\\”? They couldn’t have done that though because they were operating from a position of economic weakness combined with pressure from the Church and France to remove the \\\”enemy within\\\”. The result was a massive cultural dislocation and economic collapse. That tragedy has haunted Spain ever since and cannot be compared, as Cesar does, to Henry the V111’s disssolution of the monasteries. Henry’s daughter Mary was a devout catholic and married Phillip 11 of Spain. Tony Blair (for god’s sake man go!) is a catholic and Britain has a long history of catholic, Jewish and more recently Muslim MP’s. How many Jewish or Muslim politicians has Spain had in the last 500 years? (Answers please). None I suspect, how could it have had? What evolved in Al Andalus was of profound importance not just for Spain but for the development of the whole of Europe, and that’s why people like Chis Stewart continue to talk about it today. The challenge for us today is how to accept that period of \\\”Western learning\\\” as part of human development rather than something
    \\\”exotic\\\” , and that goes not just for Spain but for European culture and academia in general. So come on Cesar stop being so touchy, we are all of us in the gutter……

  13. Marbella

    Oh no, so Rafe did think Chris Stewart was doing some Spain bashing. What a pity.

    A small correction: Tony Blair (anyone but Gordon) is not a Catholic. Cherie is and it is rumoured that his Toniness would like to convert, but he hasn’t done so yet.

  14. Lawrence

    At the risk of seeming sycophantic Marbella, I think you make some good and interesting points but I’m not sure that I suggested that the UK and Spain should destroy their economies or that this would follow from increasing aid.
    The war in Iraq has cost almost four times what the UK currently
    gives Africa in aid. The war was paid for without increasing taxes, Britain’s economy is still booming and the same government is in power. Given the choice I would vote for aid over war.

    I agree that the argument is about much more than cash and that corruption plays its part but so too does the legacy of colonialism and unfair trade practices.

    There are obviously no easy answers but for me there are moral and human issues at the heart of this and focussing on economics obscures this.

    Just because some people think that the price of vegetables
    is more important than quality of human life and that there
    are practical difficulties associated with changing this situation
    doesn’t make that view acceptable.

    It is easier to be self-interested (and I include myself here) but that doesn’t mean that we should be.

    I’m no paragon I admit but I donate a small proportion of my monthly salary to causes I believe in and I think I would pay a few more pence for my tomatoes, yes, if it meant that by doing so that someone in dire poverty had a better life.

    My point was not really that Africa is our problem because we are only interested in ourselves. My point was that a nationalistic, self-interested view of the world does not help us to deal with what is essentially a human problem. Further to this, the West bears a great deal of responsibility for it, we have the wherewithall to help and I think we should.

  15. Londinense

    Olé, greytop!

    Marbella,
    Zapatero is in every sense a disaster for Spain not only his immigration policy.

    Rafe,
    I’m not self pity. I’m just defensive.
    Spain has only one muslim kind of MP. I’m afraid not in the Spanish Parliament but in the Catalan regional parliament. And we’ve got two or three jews, which is a lot because Spain only has about 50.000 jews (including recent immigrants from Russia and Argentina).
    I’m so sorry you are in the gutter. I hope you recover yourself soon. I need fans like you.

    ¡Intrépida, guapa, qué maja eres! Ya andaba yo falto de apoyos por estos pagos.

    It’s too bad and I’m nearly the only Spaniard in this site that lifts his voice when supposedly “gente enamorada de nuestro paí­s” have the guts and good mood to say anything against Spain.

    The history of our country is full of dark episodes like the one of any other major country in Europe. This criticism would be acceptable from a Pole with his tragic history, from a Finn or Icelandic with their more or less pristine history but certainly not from an Anglosaxon. That’s why I call them “hispanófilos de boquilla” and “hispanistas aficionados sin estudios”. And, Marbella, Ben, I’m not too personal or ofensive saying that if you compare that to being called a racist and a moros hater.

    The point is that a person like Chris is not allowed to accuse Spaniards of racism when he comes from a country where, for instance, Police is known as being “institutionalised racist” .

    Intrépida, ¡qué apodo más original! your modesty admitting your lack of knowledge shouldn’t be an obstacle for you to speak up. And of course that can change, here you are a series of very entertaining radio programmes on Spanish history: http://www.lamanana.com.es/index.php?/lamanana/cat-historiasdelahistoria/C87/

    The attitude of Marina, aunque ella me cae fenomenalmente bien, just annoys me. It’s really grave if you are not sure if Felipe II lived in the XVII or XVI century (Marina, reinó del 1556 al 1598, es decir, s. XVI) but it is even worse being silent hearing Chris.

    I will write another comment about those allegations when I have more time.

  16. Marbella

    Nunca pensé que iba a decir esto, pero necesitamos a Londinense en el foro, o a más españoles para entender la verdadera España.

  17. Londinense

    I don’t consider myself as “la verdadera España”. I’m just one voice of the 45 million Spaniards. Zapatero might be also “la verdadera España” and he is my absolute opposite.

    Tell me, Marbella, what is “la verdadera España” for you?

  18. Ben Post author

    Londinense, I still can’t understand why the crimes and problems of my country of origin, the UK, mean I can’t comment on problems in Spain. Do I (or Chris Stewart etc) have to finish every criticism of Spain with “but England is bad too”!

    You say: “The point is that a person like Chris is not allowed to accuse Spaniards of racism when he comes from a country where, for instance, Police is known as being "institutionalised racist” .”

    It seems you are not much of an advocate of free speech. If I say “the Moroccans have a terrible time in El Ejido”, is it really necessary for me to say “but don’t forget that in the UK the police are racist too!” in order to molify your fragile sensibilities? Seems a bit silly.

    Please forgive me if I continue to make comments about Spain, which I now consider to be my home, without constant reference to other parts of the world.

  19. Marina

    LOL. Cesar you contradict yourself over and over: you said to intrepida \”admitting your lack of knowledge shouldn’t be an obstacle for you to speak up\”

    Well, I admitted that I wasn\’t sure about which of the two centuries Felipe II lived in and what do you tell me? \” It’s really grave if you are not sure if Felipe II lived in the XVII or XVI century\”

    Look Cesar, we had a wonderful chat with Chris about matters that worry him, Ben and Me. Of course you (or anyone) are free to say what you want here, but I think that your technich of attacking everyone that says anything that you don\’t like is appalling. Juega limpio and stick to the subject which is the Immigration phenomenum in Spain. If one day you want to speak about any other subject that you are worried about you are welcome to open a thread in the \”Off topic/Beyond Spain\” section of the forums.

    There are other things I would comment on about your posts, but find that it is just not worth it.

  20. Marbella

    It’s taken me a few days to understand why you made immigration a key part of the interview. It would have been quite easy to do a feel-good interview, which is what I would have favoured, but I now feel it was quite daring and correct to tackle the trickiest subject in his 3rd book.

    When I read Almond Blossom I too liked the chapter from Morocco, the story of the illegal Moroccans visiting the farm and the time he spent in the immigrant welfare centre. I naively thought that he had included these chapters just to tell a good story – which he did. I mean the first 2 books were light-hearted, just full of anecdotes, nothing too heavy. But the podcast brought out the fact that he had a serious political/social point to make in the 3rd.

    So, there is a new dimension to Chris Stewart and now Notes from Spain. The reader and listener needs to be aware that there is a left-wing socialist agenda just as there is say in El Mundo or in the opposite political direction, ABC.

    If I was César, I wouldn’t even look at this site. His starting point is always the same: nobody can know anything except him. It’s impossible to have a debate with him because he will never change his view because of what you say. He tries to belittle and intimidate which shows a lack of finesse if not intelligence. Oh, I’ve just realised I’ve got personal myself but I believe there are thousands of Spaniards just like him and maybe what he is doing is showing us another side of Spain which we need to know about and can’t ignore. So thanks to Ben, Marina and Chris and I have to say, through gritted teeth, thanks to César.

  21. Ben Post author

    “So, there is a new dimension to Chris Stewart and now Notes from Spain. The reader and listener needs to be aware that there is a left-wing socialist agenda”

    – That’s certainly news to me!!! LOL – Wow, I never had an Agenda before 🙂

  22. Londinense

    Marbella,
    Your view of “la verdadera España” is quite accurate. Te felicito.
    You are right, I’ve got a quite hard starting point but I am open to new ideas. I want to listen. Please, just try to convince me, not to brand me as the notesfromspain freak.

    Ben,
    I like your site. That’s why I’m here. But if I dare, I don’t want to overhear when you are just disrespectful.

    Marina,
    If you don’t find it worthy, neither do I.

  23. Marina

    "So, there is a new dimension to Chris Stewart and now Notes from Spain. The reader and listener needs to be aware that there is a left-wing socialist agenda”

    I\’d like to clear up that my interest in the immigration subject was truly from a humanitarian point of view.

  24. Marbella

    I withdraw my poor taste joke unreservedly. Marina – do you have a solution to the Moroccan immigrant problem or are you just worried about their welfare?

  25. jon hundt

    are there (proportionally) as many Moroccans in Spain as there are in Amsterdam? It’s interesting to note that the top-3 most common names for male babies in Holland are variations on Mohammed. That either means that there are lots of Morrocans and/or other followers of Islam, or that the few that live here have lots of kids and little imagination for names. Now, I guess I have to go listen to this podcast so I can see what the fighting is all about….

  26. César Ortega

    Chris,

    I honor your interest on Spain and your wide knowledge about Spanish history, I appreciate your love for our natural heritage, for our gastronomy etc. I’m sure I could learn a lot from you. Also your worries about the illegals show how well-hearted you are.

    I won’t mention Britain now and compare racism in the UK versus racism in Spain because Ben is right, we are talking about Spain. So, having clarified that , dou you really think that Spaniards are racist or hate foreigners or especially moroccans? You don’t really believe that. If nothing happened to them right after the Madrid Bombings when six Moroccans were accused of killing more than 190 people and injuring thousands (nowadays that is not so clear. See Luis del Pino series in
    http://www.libertaddigital.com/opiniones/opi_desa_26479.html , but that is the theme of another podcast, hopefully soon) it won’t be any kind of violence against them.

    On the other hand, Spaniards don’t like Moroccans, that’s generally true. This is not because they are so similar as you say, but because of the past.

    Please, Chris, the population of today’s Spain has no blood ties with the population of Morocco. The arabs or the hispanoarabs were expelled during the Reconquista and the land was uninhabited and has to be REPOBLADO by people from the north mostly Galicians, Asturians, Basques, Aragonians and Catalans but also from southern France and other parts of the christian world. The similarities that you see, which I don’t deny, are the shared mediterranean substract that you can find from Algeciras to Istanbul.

    The last chapter of the Reconquista was the conquest of the Reino de Granada. After 1492 there were some morisco communities mainly in Las Alpujarras, Aragón and Valencia. They were allowed to remain in Spain giving them time to be assimilated into the mainstream christian society. That didn’t work and after the uprising of Las Alpujarras they were seen as a kind of quinta columna of their north african brothers trying to recapture the lost Al-Andalus. So Felipe III very maliciously finally decided to expel them (9th of April 1609). And that was the end of the Moors in Spain.

    Spaniards don’t hate Moros. Spaniards fear them. We see the daily pateras as a way for them to install a new Quinta columna on Spanish soil. We don’t want a new morisco community in the beginning of the 21st century. That’s why the farmers in Andalucí­a prefer polish, rumanians or south americans to moros. That’s not racism, that’s survival.

  27. Edith

    Wow, that’s been an interesting and spirited discussion! I haven’t really got the time to get involved in this, but suffice it to say that relatively few people are able to look at their own country’s history without any nationalistic bias… this is true for all nationalities, including my own. Which is why discussions about the Inquisition or the Leyenda Negra always end up in heated shouting contests between ‘Catholics’ and ‘Protestants’, with the ‘Catholics’ usually doing most of the shouting. What everyone seems to forget that the Jews were the main victims of the Inquisition, so I’d like to hear a ‘Jewish’ viewpoint on this issue for a change. Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal, for instance, was horrified by the Spanish Inquisition and the limpieza de sangre laws which reminded him of the Neuremberg laws. He writes about this in one of his books. Now surely his opinion cannot be dismissed very easily as ‘Protestant’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon’ bias…

    It just does not wash to say that someone’s argument cannot be true because of his background (‘you’re an Anglo-Saxon! You’re a Protestant! Therefore you are biased!). That is just so totally irrelevant – I might as well say ‘you’re a Catholic! You’re a Spaniard! Therefore you are biased!’. Sometimes, being an outsider can even be a blessing – Margaret Mead, an American anthropologist, wrote an excellent analysis of Dutch colonial rule on the island of Bali.
    Anyway, the podcast was great and even though I may not agree with Chris Stewart’s analysis of Africa’s problems in every detail, I certainly like his passionate involvement. I read ‘Driving Over Lemons’ a couple of years ago and I think I will re-read it soon.
    Keep up the good work Ben and Marina! 🙂

  28. Edith

    One more thing… whether one likes the Arabs/Moros or not is irrelevant here too. They ruled Al-Andalus for almost eight centuries, so it would have been a miracle if they hadn’t left any traces behind! The Greeks may hate the Turks – and with a reason, considering the cruelty of Turkish rule – but nobody in his right mind would deny that contemporary Greek culture has been greatly influenced by the Turkish conquerors – the music, the food, some folk beliefs, etc. etc.
    It’s like Chris said during the interview – the hatred between groups which are related either culturally or genetically is often very deep. A couple of years ago Benetton launched a publicity campaign in order to promote the peace process in the Middle East, and they used young Israeli and Palestinian models without saying who was who. Often it was impossible to tell them apart! So why should Andalucians be ashamed of having some North African ancestry? Why be in denial about something which is the logical outcome of every single conquest in world history, e.g. miscegenation?

  29. Londinense

    Edith,

    I don’t think we deny the arab influence on Spanish culture. The language is an example, alfombra, almohada, alcantarilla, alacena… and so on in many areas. This Arab veneer is what makes Spain so different to the other European cultures. But that ended 500 years ago, a little bit different than the hundred years of the end of Turkish rule over Greece.

    Quite interesting having a dutch voice here. A voice from Holland where these sons of immigrants (Moroccans but also Turks) cause so many problems nowadays. I don’t want that for my country. I don’t want the riots like the one in France or the assassination of a Spanish Pim Fortuyn or a Spanish Theo van Gogh; I don’t want Spanish muslims of the second generation killing people in the subway or trying to explode plains in the air like those British born muslims one month ago; I don’t want Spanish cartoonists being afraid of being killed because they draw what they want to draw; I want Spanish writers to write satanic verses if they please…

    All of that is in danger if we let more muslims into Europe. Yesterday died Oriana Fallaci. She was right. We are in the way to be Eurabia. Do we want that? Please, let’s stop it!

    Edith, Marina, have you bought your chador yet? or do you prefer the Burka? ¡Estoy seguro que estaréis moní­simas! Idos preparando.

  30. Edith

    César, whether Arab influence on Spanish culture (and Andalucian culture in particular) is a mere veneer or not is still subject to debate, and I would like to know what ethnohistorians have bject. got to say about this subject. Apart from that, I believe you are mixing up two things: our present worries about radical Islam and the Arab presence on the Iberian peninsula during the Middle Ages. At that point in time, the Muslim world was far more developed intellectually and socially than it is today. Like Chris mentions in his interview, the Arabs introduced many things in Europe, ranging from agricultural inventions and architecture to new concepts of hygiene (the bath house!) and foodstuffs which are still important in Spain today, like egg plants, citrus fruits, almonds, puff pastry, lentils, chickpeas, etc. Back then, both Christians and Muslims propagated conversion by the sword, and religious intolerance of ‘unbelievers’ was more pronounced in the Christian world. Today, it’s the other way around but we were talking about medieval Andalucí­a and all of a sudden you make this big quantum leap to the twenty-first century and the world of Islamic fundamentalism. Suffice it to say that I’m just as worried about this phenomenon as you are, but I do not believe in demonizing all Muslims like Oriana Fallaci does. I have read one of her books and I just do not understand how such an intelligent, knowledgeable woman could become so consumed by hatred against one particular group. Adter all, we have been no angels ourselves, as many indigenous peoples who were conquered by us can affirm. I agree with some of her conclusions but by no means with all of them. Yes, there is much in the Islamic world today which worries me greatly, but her approach is just way too radical. And as far as immigration in general is concerned… I don’t understand why you are so adamantly against it, since you are an immigrant yourself. I find that highly ironic.

  31. Edith

    índ why is it that the population of Spain, like that of many other European countries, is so genetically diverse? Hair color ranges from blonde and red to brown and black, with the darker colors predominating. Eduardo Zaplana, the PP politician, would not stand out in a North African crowd. So the Visigoths and Celts can’t have been the only ones who made a contribution to the Spanish gene pool…

  32. Londinense

    Edith,

    I made a huge leap from medieval Spain to today because the Podcast also did.

    I am the greatest lover of immigration. No doubt. But I am absolutely against muslim immigration into Europe. They are just INASSIMILABLE and worst of all, with a personal agenda, that is to say the instauration of a global caliphate. You may not want to see it, perhaps because you prefer to live in your private secure niche but people who fought against them have paid with their lives, e. g. Fortuyn or Van Gogh. They were quite radical, that’s right, but in our society we are allowed to be radical with our words, that’s democracy. Do you want our world to be destroyed? No? Zo openmake je ogen!

    I wonder if the Pope is next…

  33. ValenciaSon

    I enjoyed this podcast because it did span from the arab influence on Spain to Africa. Do I feel compelled to offer the past atrocities of the US? No, sorry Cesar. I’m not feeling defensive enough to do that. The whole bit about Eurabia is just a tad bit xenophobic. If you do not espouse an arab presence in Europe, then what is acceptable, a caucasians’ only club? Lets not let the gene pool become shallow in Europe (again).

    And who cares if Marina couldn’t remember what exact century Felipe did his thing? Talk about bering so habitually critical that you miss the essence of the conversation!

    Ben and Marina, muchas gracias por este estupendo podcast. Creo que se ahora cual es el proximo libro que voy a leer. Mereceis una medalla por aguantar la mierda de Cesar.

  34. Londinense

    Edith, ValenciaSon

    I don’t care about the Spanish gene pool. Race is not an issue for me. Only attitude and willingness not to break the harmony of the welcoming society.

    ValenciaSon

    Te has cubierto de … gloria con tu último comentario. Espero que duermas mejor hoy y que a partir de mañana veas la vida no tan marrón. ¡Tómate unas cañas a mi salud y cálmate, majo!

  35. Edith

    César, I do not want Europe to become a caliphate either. Like I told you before, there are many aspects of Arab (and Muslim cultures in general) which worry me deeply, like the treatment of women, the deeply entrenched anti-Semitism and the atrocious human rights records of their regimes. Personally, I could not live in a Muslim country because I like the freedom I am enjoying here as a woman. Even in Turkey, which is a modern Muslim country, equality between the sexes is still a pipe dream because so-called honor killings still happen on a regular basis. According to some observers, the hysterical mass rallies against the West we get to see on TV are orquestrated by the very regimes which mercilessly stifle any kind of popular opposition or any call for democracy. So yes, there are many trends within the Muslim world which should worry us deeply. I agree with you on issues such as the cartoon crisis and the Pope.

    BUT… I do not understand this all-out hatred against Muslims in general. Theo van Gogh used very foul language against both Muslims and Jews and in doing so, ceased to be part of civil society. What did the average Muslim do to deserve the epithet ‘goatf*cker’? Yes, this was what Van Gogh said, both on TV and in the printed media. He was a very vulgar man, both in apperance and in language. What he said helped widen the rift between Muslims and non-Muslims in Holland. Of course, this does not justify his murder in any way, but to say that I liked him would be a lie. The Jewish community took him to court, which was the only sensible thing to do, Muslim radicals believed he deserved to die. So yes, there is a difference which I find worrying, but not all Muslims subscribe to these radical ideas. P.s.: Pim Fortuyn was not killed by a Muslim but by a radical animal rights activist of Dutch extraction.

  36. jon hundt

    Just to set the record straight:

    Pim Fortuyn was NOT assasinated by a Moroccan. His stated beliefs about the “islamization” of Dutch society may indeed have raised some hackles in our Muslim communities, but in fact he was slain by a good old-fashioned white Dutch guy who was known as a fervent animal-rights activist. The connection is very hard to figure, and the killer isn’t explaining any better.

    Theo Van Gogh was very definitely killed – ritualistically slaughtered – by a Dutch-Moroccan, who did it all for his own religious reasons.

    Now – we’ve argued this all out, obviously we’re not going to solve the world’s problems here on B&M’s podcast. Let’s not get nasty at them just for bringing up a tough subject, and let’s not talk bad about others just because our opinions are different.

  37. Londinense

    Jon, Edith

    I forgot Fortuyn was killed by an animal activist, sorry.

    I cannot agree more with you both.

    I am personally very worried. I think we should stand up for our civilization. We have to acknowledge that we have a huge problem and do something to solve it.

  38. Rafe

    Edith, you cannot confuse European antisemitism with Arabs being anti semitic. They are semites and historically have not oppressed
    either Jews nor Christians. Even today nearly all Arab (and Muslim) countries contain both Jewish and Christian communities. As the historian William Dalrymple has recently pointed out Syria has become a haven for Christians escaping from the horror of Iraq. The imposition of Isreal on the region has fractured the relations between the Jews and muslims it is true but is important not to project the spectre of rabid European antisemitism which led to the gas chambers onto the Arabs and Muslims- there is no such equivalent. At the risk of heating up this debating even further I would like to mention the Pope’s speech on Islam. Apart the ironies contained within it: Christianity was not only spread by the sword it was spread by the Roman empire which was one of the most brutal and bloodthirsty the world has ever seen. If we are going to talk about that which is “evil and inhuman” we should remember that when Rome became Christian the games increased both in numbers and in their cruelty (just not against Christians). Can you imagine how we would remember that if it had been Muslims doing all that killing? The fact is that Christianity has been anti-Islamic and anti Jewish since the medieval times as part of it’s identity which was insecure both economically and culturally. Others ironies are that Aristotle’s debate on faith and reason which the Pope cited only entered Europe because it was translated and re-interpreted by the Arab philosopher Ibn Rushid from Cordoba. Does the Pope even know that? He certainly never mentioned it. The fact is from top to bottom Islamaphobia has existed as a morbid projected phantasy in Europe for over a thousand years. Recognising it is the first step towards creating a healthier and more honest atmosphere in which real dialogue with Islam can begin. This is something which the Catholic church has never been able to do in all it’s long history. Perhaps in a serendipitous way the Pope’s ill advised speech could start this. If not we will remain prisoners of the type of dangerous paranoia that Cesar suffers from. His reading of “civilisation” is really a re-run of 19th century Western colonialism as in Iraq, and the only Caliphate that exists today is the U.S one which has spread it’s military bases all over world. Don’t worry Cesar, Al Andalus is not returning. The Kings of Saudi Arabia are too busy investing in the U.S enonomy.

  39. Edith

    Rafe, let’s agree to disagree on the Middle East, OK?
    And now let’s return to Spanish things…

    Saludos, Edith

  40. Rafe

    Edith and Cesar, what cop out answers from both of you! I was expecting a more valiant rally! Edith. I thought I was talking mainly about European anti-semitism/Islamaphobia and also the Pope. Cesar, you use the word “Allah” as if it is different God, but Allah, Jehova and God are all the same. They come from who knows where! Perhaps ancient Egypt. Anyway don’t “ala con dios” but do “go with God.”

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