Luke Stobart The Guardian
Their dignity in the face of horror – in the run-up to the referendum – has shown Spain that Catalans deserve to run their own affairs A Muslim man hugs passersby at the site of the terrorist incident on the Rambles in Barcelona.
Photograph: Susana Vera/Reuters
Horrific events like the Barcelona and Cambrils terror attacks now seem horribly familiar in the west (though worse examples are regular occurrences in the global south). But this time there was one unusual, and overlooked, factor: the territory that was targeted is the focus of a national dispute that could lead to secession.
Escalating tensions between the Spanish and Catalan governments over the latter’s “process” to create an independent republic are one reason why few people have adopted the national Spanish flag to exhibit solidarity with the recent victims – halting the pattern popularised in France after the assaults of 2015-16.
A referendum on independence has been called for 1 October by the Catalan parliament – fulfilling a pledge made by a majority of Catalan MPs. Despite Catalan wishes, the referendum will be unilateral; the Spanish government has vehemently opposed a bilateThis has caused much resentment: over 70% of Catalans back a referendum, and giant pro-sovereignty protests have been held for five successive years. The bitter mood intensified after revelations about the “dirty war” involving collusion between government, fraud officials and the media – and the barring from office of a former Catalan president and three colleagues.
While the roots of Thursday’s attacks lie elsewhere, the Galician writer Suso de Toro has posed the logical question of whether the time and location of the events – all occurring in Catalonia – were chosen to “rip the skin on a graze”. The last major Islamist attacks in Spain coincided with the 2004 general election that followed protests against Spanish support for the Iraq war – and were interpreted as having altered the course of that election.
At the very least, friction over the Catalan vote has shaped responses to the violence on the Ramblas. The police officers praised for killing six terrorists (regardless of whether this was required in all cases) belonged to the Catalan “Mossos”. Madrid had excluded the Mossos from Spanish and international security bodies – including Europol: something now seen as irresponsible, and the decision has been reversed.
For the full article at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/24/catalonia-terror-independence-referendum-spain-catalans