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By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman, Latin America Correspondent

CORDOBA, Spain, November 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Spanish judge has ruled that a violent occupation of the Cathedral of Cordoba by a group of Muslims in March of this year did not violate the nation's law against offending religious sentiments.

According to Europa Press, the judge occupying the seat of the Fourth Court of Instruction of Cordoba ruled that the incursion into the cathedral, which culminated in an assault on several guards and a policeman, was merely a “public disorder” and was not intended to offend anyone's religious sentiments.

“There isn't so much an intention to minimize or harm the religious sentiments of the Catholic religion so much as an attempt to favor, not to say clearly impose, in a false gesture of tolerance, the possibility of carrying out joint worship [in the cathedral],” the judge declared. “It doesn't act to demerit or discredit the Catholic religion, but rather in favor of joint use.”

Spanish Muslims have long demanded the right to carry out Islamic worship in the Cathedral of Cordoba, which was demolished by Muslims in the 8th century and replaced with a mosque following their conquest of the area.  The cathedral was rebuilt in the 13th century after Christians reconquered Cordoba. However, much of the original architecture of the mosque was left intact.

Despite a prohibition against Islamic worship in the cathedral, a group of approximately one hundred Muslims from Austria entered the building during Holy Week on March 31, led by an imam and sporting walkie-talkies.  After they began to carry out the rites of the Islamic religion they were confronted by security guards and police, several of whom suffered injuries after being attacked by eight members of the group, one of whom brandished a knife. The eight aggressors were arrested, while the rest were allowed to go free after being forcibly removed from the cathedral. 

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