the anti-black and islamophobic hidden history of one of france’s biggest parties

July 26, 2017
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By jesse chase, AFROPUNK Contributor

The Running of the Bulls is celebrated every year but people don’t like to talk about it’s anti-Black and Islamophobic history

The Fêtes De Bayonne (the party of Bayonne) takes place from July 26 – July 31 this year in the city of Bayonne, France. It is a unique celebration of the cultural milieu that is Southern France and Basque country which spreads down to Spain and has fought for its recognition as a separate people independent of French dominion for hundreds of years.

The famous running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, is of the same tradition, and there are several running of the bulls throughout the rest of Spain, Portugal and even in Latin American countries. The tradition of bullfighting, which has recently been reconsidering its inhumane murdering of bulls for spectacle, can even be traced back to 2000 BCE in ancient Rome.

However, part of the tradition’s history is often left out: the running of the bulls is also symbolic of the anti-black and Islamophobic expulsion of the Moors from medieval Europe.

The Moors were a mix of Sub-Saharan and North African Islamic people who inhabited and ruled most of Spain, Portugal and parts of Italy from 700 – 1400 ACE. In an age when Europe was relatively illiterate, the Moors boasted dozens of libraries in Spain alone.

They introduced a lot of mathematics, philosophy, physics, astronomy, geography, chemistry and music to European cultures, and so it is argued that the Moors are responsible for bringing Europe out of the Dark Ages.

The European renaissance that ironically began in 1400 ACE wouldn’t have happened without the Moors. The Islamophobic Christian Crusades that started in 1000 ACE and went on into the 1200’s fanned the flames of the Reconquista feud between Europeans and Muslim occupiers that resulted in expulsion of the Moors from Europe in the 1400’s.

After this expulsion, the Portuguese began its first expeditions into Africa which would lead to the beginning of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade 100 years later. Many of these expelled refugee Muslims descended back down to North Africa or were enslaved by the Europeans, some even traveled to Northern Europe like Morgan Freeman’s Crusades era character Azeem did in the 1991 film Robin Hood.

This article isn’t explicitly about exploring the roots of anti-black racism and Islamophobia in Europe or about anti-black racism in North Africa–where Sub-Saharan Africans are still to this day victims of racism by Arabs across North Africa–nor about why Arabs would venerate whiteness as opposed to Blackness. But it’s important to point out that getting rid of Blacks from Europe and North Africa was an impetus behind the trans-Atlantic slave trade. And by doing so, it removed Black people from history, which was always part of the plan, thus creating a people stripped of their own knowledge of self.

As Marcus Garvey said, “A people without knowledge of their history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”

This history isn’t taught in schools. This is the same tradition of anti-Black historical erasure as the depiction of the Black Madonna and her Black son Jesus as a white Madonna and her white son Jesus. The overt denial of African contributions to European culture is used as an instrument of oppression over Black bodies (and Arab bodies) with Eurocentric lies.

Moorish influence can be seen across all of Europe through statues and paintings. The truth here is the tradition of the running of the bulls can be used as a means to educate everyone about historical accuracy, and to move towards a means of acknowledging facts, reconciling these differences for a more mature, honest, compassionate and decolonized world history.


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