Catalan far right capitalises on anti-Muslim sentiment

Plataforma per CatalunyaIt’s a blunt campaign message – a video shows three attractive young women in miniskirts skipping with a rope in the Spanish city of Igualada, to the accompaniment of a traditional Catalan folk song.

Suddenly, the image changes to “Igualada 2015” and shows three women dressed in burkas skipping to the rhythm of an Arab song.

Plataforma per Catalunya is a far-right party created nine years ago by former supporters of General Francisco Franco in the north-eastern industrial province of Catalonia, and running in Sunday’s regional elections in Spain. Last year the party gained almost 3 per cent of the vote in the regional elections and now expects to increase its local vote five-fold, going from 17 to more than 100 council members across Catalonia and possibly winning control of some cities.

Plataforma per Catalunya is riding a growing wave of anti-immigration sentiment, where many blame foreigners – 12 per cent of the Spanish population – for rising crime and a lack of jobs, in a country with 20 per cent official unemployment.

“We didn’t have much money so I did this video to create an impact, but I never imagined the huge reaction it would provoke,” Roberto Hernando, the party’s number two candidate and director of the video, told The Scotsman yesterday. “We keep getting e-mails and letters from people across Spain begging us to expand nationally. With this crisis we shouldn’t allow more immigrants into the country, especially Muslims who want to impose their culture upon others.”

Scotsman, 19 May 2011