Spain: Growing concern over the spread of racism
- Media coverage
There is a growing concern over the spread of racism in public spaces throughout different Autonomous Communities, in part linked to the increased social tensions and feelings of insecurity caused by the current crisis. For instance, this has been denounced by the SOS Racisme Association in Catalonia.
In particular, there had been a lot of media attention in the Basque Country in early 2014 after the speech of the Mayor of Vitoria, Javier Maroto, accusing foreign workers (mainly people of Maghreb origin) of "abusing" social benefits and not making any efforts to integrate in the Basque society. In response, the SOS Racismo Association filed a complaint with the Provincial Court of Alava against him, as they believed his comments could constitute a crime of racial hatred incitement.
However, in March 2014, the Basque Senior Prosecutor filed the case, as he considered that these statements were within the exercise of Maroto’s right to freedom of expression.
Nonetheless, since then, there has been an unprecedented escalation of xenophobic acts in Vitoria.
In November 2014, a person in Vitoria was attacked for defending the rights of immigrants. He was physically assaulted by a person who he had previously reprimanded for hurling insults against immigrants. The victim of the assault did not have serious injuries, but the incident triggered all the alarms in the city.
In the beginning of 2015, stickers with xenophobic and racist messages appeared at the door of the headquarters of the Association of African-American Residents. This was followed by an anonymous letter to the same association in a threatening tone, which included phrases like: "There is no lack of work, there are too many immigrants".