Spanish Muslims have appealed to Pope Benedict seeking permission to worship inside a landmark southern Spanish cathedral that was a mosque more than 800 years ago.

Spain's Islamic Board says it is not trying to take over the Cathedral of Cordoba, but wants to turn it into a place where believers of all faiths can worship in the spirit of peace and humanity.

The board says Spain's Catholic Church leaders have turned down its request, and that cathedral guards often use force to stop Muslims from praying inside the church.

The Cordoba cathedral was built as a mosque when the Moors ruled Spain starting in the 8th century.

The building was converted to a Catholic church in the 13th century when Christians reconquered Cordoba.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.