Boris Johnson has written in his weekly Telegraph column that anti-Muslim bigots in Europe would do well to remember the continent's debt to the culture of Muslim Spain.
The Mayor of London and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip said that on a trip to Granada, home of the Moorish Alhambra palace, over the festive period he was struck by the beauty and achievement of the medieval kingdom.View of the Patio de Arrayanes at the Alhambra
No, there is no easy way you can retrofit medieval Spain to become some prototype of modern urban pluralism and tolerance. But what you cannot deny is the scale of the Muslim achievement.
It was the intellectual flowering of the Cordoba caliphate that helped to protect and transmit ancient Greek texts and eventually to propel the European Renaissance. The Islamic architecture of Granada is simply astonishing.
Citing current fear-mongering over Islamic extremism in Europe, Johnson wrote:
Amid all this gloom and all this apprehension... it is worth celebrating an epoch in which a specifically Islamic culture made a great and imperishable contribution to European civilisation.