Raising the Issue of Fascism in Spain
A young girl raises her arm in a fascist salute during a parade in Madrid By James Bryce
IT was an image that raised eyebrows around the world. A well-dressed little girl, no older than six or seven, lifting her right arm in a fascist salute during a celebration to mark the anniversary of the death of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. The picture was taken during an annual procession to mark Franco’s death in 1975 and that of Falange founder Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, who died on the same date in 1936.But while the youngster is guilty of little more than child-like enthusiasm, the photograph has reopened the debate about the influence of the far right in Spain. Unprecedented austerity measures introduced in response to the eurozone crisis have already led to a rise in the popularity of far right groups among disillusioned voters across Europe. According to Movimiento contra la Intolerancia (MCI), an NGO working to prevent right-wing extremism, right-wing violence is responsible for over 80 deaths since 1991. It puts the number of attacks motivated by right wing extremism, racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism at 4,000 a year. In March, a 16-year-old boy was left in a coma and several others were injured after Nazi skinheads attacked an anti-fascism concert in Manresa, near Barcelona. The attack was condemned by the majority of town councillors in Manresa, but not by all of them. Councillors from Platform for Cataluna (PxC) stayed quiet.The extreme-right party, which has links to Spain’s fascist and Falangist past, benefits from state subsidies despite running campaigns against mosques, which frequently land it in hot water. The party is currently being investigated by Barcelona’s public prosecutor in relation to comments made by members on Facebook about the religious rights of Muslims. Messages were posted describing imams as ‘swine, sons of whores’ who ‘are in need of another night of the long knives’. Meanwhile, a probe has been launched into allegations of incitement to racial hatred in relation to election literature distributed in towns near Barcelona. Leaflets wrongly claimed that free medication and jobs not offered to locals were granted to immigrants, and that Pakistani businessmen ‘do not pay taxes’.
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