Al Jazeera World

Ceuta: Multicultural city

In an autonomous Spanish city on the north coast of Africa, people of four religions live together in peace.

The autonomous Spanish city of Ceuta sits on the tip of Morocco on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa.

Effectively, Ceuta is the last European colony in North Africa, and has been a port and important trading centre since the fifth century BC.

Ceuta’s most famous son is Charif Al Idrissi, the 12th century explorer who drew the first maps of the world. Back then, the city was under Muslim control. But when the Arabs lost Andalucia in 1492, it was conquered, first by the Portuguese and then the Spanish – who still own it today.

Because of its history and geographical position, it has a very diverse population for such a small place.

Half of its 84,000 residents are Spanish Christian, while most of the remainder are Arab and Berber Muslim. There are also small numbers of Jews and Hindus in an urban area of only 19 square kilometres.

But Ceuta prides itself on what it calls ‘convivencia’ – co-existence. And the people of the four religions seem, by and large, to live together peacefully here, in the midst of a modern world where religious conflict and sectarianism are only too common.

In this film, we look at why – in a world riven by religious and sectarian division – Ceutans seem to get on fine. We also hear what Morocco feels about its neighbour remaining in European hands.

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