IOL Staff

CAIRO — A European genetics study has unveiled mass conversion of Muslims and Jews in Andalusia to Catholicism following the downfall of the Muslim rule six centuries ago.“These proportions attest to a high level of religious conversion (whether voluntary or enforced), driven by historical episodes of social and religious intolerance,” said the study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The study, “The Genetic Legacy of Religious Diversity and Intolerance: Paternal Lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula,” found that one third of the population in the Iberian Peninsula – Spain and Portugal – have a non-Christian genetic heritage.

Eleven percent of the population bear Moorish DNA signatures, showed the study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

The Moors refer to the Muslim populations from North Africa.

The study also found that 20 percent of the Spanish and Portugalete populations has Sephardic Jewish ancestry.

The study developed a Y chromosomes of the Arab and Berber army that entered Spain in A.D. 711 from data on people living in Morocco and Western Sahara.

It also characterized the Y chromosome for Sephardic Jews, who have family origins in the Iberian Peninsula by studying Sephardic Jewish communities in places where Jews migrated after expulsion from Spain in 1492 to 1496.

“Admixture analysis based on binary and Y-STR haplotypes indicates a high mean proportion of ancestry from North African (10.6%) and Sephardic Jewish (19.8%) sources,” said the study.

Muslims have ruled different parts of Spain and Portugal from 711 until 1492.

In 1236, the Spanish Reconquista led to the subjugation of the last Islamic stronghold of Granada under Mohammed ibn Alhamar to the Christian forces of Ferdinand III of Castile.

From there on Granada became a vassal state to the Christian kingdom for the next 250 years until January 2, 1492, when the last Muslim leader Boabdil of Granada surrendered complete control of the remnants of the last Moorish stronghold Granada, to Ferdinand and Isabella.

The Moriscos, the name given to Muslims who were living in Spain after the fall of Granada, were subjected to an array of persecution, torture, mass killings, forced conversions to Christianity, the notorious Spanish Inquisition and mass exodus that started in February 1502.