The harassment of several far-right groups against the mosque in the Nou Barris district of Barcelona is closer to not going unpunished. The prosecutor against hate crimes of Barcelona, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, has requested 10 years in prison for the head of organization in Catalonia of the far-right party National Democracy, Alberto Bruguera, and between three and six years in prison for fourteen other neo-fascists for the “campaign of harassment and harassment” that they directed against the Muslim community of the neighborhood.
The events date back to 2017, when the Muslim community was preparing to open a mosque in Nou Barris after obtaining all the permits. Far-right groups such as Democracia Nacional, Frente Nacional Joven, Generación Identidad, Frente Visigodo and Legión Catalana, says the prosecutor, “entered” and “took advantage” of neighborhood protests against the center to turn them into “an interested campaign of harassment and harassment towards the Muslim community ”.
Through caceroladas, chants with the megaphone, graffiti and attacks on the mosque, continues the prosecutor, the ultras tried to “manipulate” the neighbors, “exalt them” and “increase protests and stereotypes” against the mosque, in addition to “intimidating “To the Islamic community of the neighborhood so that it could not open the religious center and” disturb its legitimate exercise of the right to religious freedom.
Prosecutor Aguilar emphasizes that the harassment of the extreme right to the Muslim community of Nou Barris is not an isolated case, but is framed in a context of “proliferation of Islamophobia” in Catalonia, Spain and Europe, a consequence of the “normalization of an exclusionary discourse” by “new populist leaderships opposed to immigration and the reception of refugees.”
In Nou Barris this strategy was translated into almost weekly protests by the ultras for a year against the mosque and attacks on the center such as sticking of stickers with the slogans “mosque no”, “non-Muslim Christian Spain” as well as the launching of red paint and painted with the initials “SS”, locking their padlocks and placing them at the entrance to the pork sausage center. The attacks only stopped after the judge, in 2018, issued a restraining order for the ultras from the mosque.
In parallel to the physical attacks, adds the prosecutor, several of the defendants launched a campaign on social networks with content to “generate animosity, prejudice and stereotypes against Muslims.”
And in March 2017 they went further and even attacked residents of the neighborhood who supported the opening of the mosque. “Guided by their hostility to religious freedom and social integration,” says the prosecutor, several of the defendants began throwing beer and cigarette cans at neighbors, as well as insulting and threatening them. They signaled two of the neighborhood spokesmen to the shout of “let’s get you”, coming to surround one of them and tell him that they were going to “tear off his head”, and then kick and knee them.
The Barcelona City Council, which reported the events to the prosecutor, has held the public accusation. “It is a case that represents a turning point, because we have seen situations like this in other cases, with the opening of other centers of worship or minors, but until now there has not been such an exhaustive court case with so much evidence and that ask for such documented jail sentences against the extreme right ”, the Councilor for Citizenship Rights, Marc Serra, told the media.