“The project of constructing a Western European identity without much space for immigrants brought a mix of laws, verbal affirmations of hate, and even blood-ridden attacks this summer of 2011.”
So opens a disturbing article in Global Voices, written by Ana Lucia Sa, and translated by Marianna Breytman.
Immigrants Unsurprised By Norway Attacks
The author goes on to quote Abuy Nfubea, president of the Pan-African Federation of Black Communities in Spain. In an article entitled “Is there really someone that is surprised by Norway’s racist crimes?”, the author points out immigrants in Spain who ride the metro, for example, are constantly being stopped and asked for documentation.
Writing of the Norway attacks, he states, “…it is not perplexing, that we saw it coming, and that is the worst thing about THIS ABOMINABLE CRIME.”
This is indeed a disturbing thought.
How Large Is The Immigrant Population In Spain?
According to The Guardian, the number of immigrants registered as living in Spain has increased more than sixfold over the last 10 years. Some 5.6 million non-Spaniards were registered as living in the country in 2009, accounting for 12% of the population, an increase of 400,000 on 2008.
And it seems that many Spaniards are not happy about this.
Sa quotes a survey on opinions of the number of immigrants from NeoBandam:
46% feel that this is “excessive,” 33% feel it is “elevated,” and 17% feel it is “acceptable.”
Xenophobic Harassment Of Immigrants
She also adds a truly depressing comment from the Movement Against Intolerance:
With the eruption of the economic crisis, the increase in xenophobic prejudice and harassment towards immigration is a reality. (…) Add to this, the agitation and xenophobic harassment propelled by extremist organized groups that feed the intolerance towards immigration with populist slogans of all types, including “Spaniards first,” and religious intolerance.
And it is Muslims in particular who are targeted here. In one example, the author quotes some rhetoric that we in the United States may recognize. “PxC does not oppose immigration, but rather the installation of Muslim immigrants in our country, a phenomenon that can pose a large period of clear threats to our culture.”
Cordoba Embraces Its Muslim Heritage – But Not Present-Day Muslims
There is a very strange disconnect here. This past summer, I spent some time in Cordoba, Spain, which calls itself “The City of Three Cultures.” The city has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO, and guides lead tours of the Great Mosque, turned into a Roman Catholic cathedral after the Christians kicked out the Muslims, and of the Jewish quarters, which fell victim to the Spanish Inquisition.
As the guide proudly showed off the Muslim, Christian and Jewish architecture, asking us to marvel at the existence of the three side-by-side, there was no mention of the brutal victimization of the Muslims or the Jewish people. When I tried to broach the subject, it was clear that my guide had no interest in discussing such minor details.
Spain’s Muslim Past Useful For Profit-Making, But Who Needs 21st Century Immigrants?
Apparently, while Cordoba is happy to make plenty of tourist money from its visitors, it is not willing to look at its historical truths. And also apparently, today’s Muslims are unrelated to their glorious past, but are simply to be targets of hatred?
Photo Credit: james.gordon6108 via Creative Commons