Tuesday 9 December 2008

What would Franco and Salazar say?

New genetic research has revealed that as many as 20 per cent of Spanish and Portuguese men have Sephardic Jewish ancestry, while 11 per cent have DNA that indicates Moorish forebears. These findings are interesting for a number of reasons. They suggest that the extent of forced conversions to Catholicism in the 15th and 16th centuries was far greater than previously imagined. They are also a reminder that we are all, to some extent, and to borrow Barack Obama's expressive term, 'mutts', and are thus a boost to pluralistic and cosmopolitan approaches to matters of personal identity. And they are a massive and welcome rebuff to the racial purism and exclusivism, cloaked in right-wing Catholicism, that has often plagued the Iberian peninsula. Franco and Salazar must be spinning in their graves.

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