Reuters, October 2, 2006
Madrid — Spanish villages are toning down traditional fiestas in which revelers blow up dummies representing the Prophet Mohammed for fear of offending Muslims, the newspaper El Pais reported on Monday.
One eastern Spanish village, Bocairent, decided to abandon the custom of packing the head of a dummy representing Mohammed with fireworks after seeing the angry response by Muslims to a Danish newspaper’s publication last year of cartoons of him.
El Pais found that several other villages in the Valencia region had also modified similar fiestas this year.
Bocairent’s mayor, Antonio Valdes, said blowing up the Mohammed dummy was offensive.
“It just wasn’t necessary, and, as it could hurt some people’s feelings, we decided not to do it,” he said.
The village may not have blown up the wood-and-cardboard Mohammed dummy this year — but it still threw it off a castle wall at the fiesta’s climax in February.
Villages all over Spain hold annual festivals to commemorate the “Reconquista,” the reconquest of Spain by Christians from the Moors, which was completed in 1492 after more than 700 years of Muslim rule in much of the country.
Spain is now once again home to a growing number of Muslims, mainly Moroccan immigrants, who villagers feel might be offended by some of their traditional celebrations.