Islamic groups in the North African autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla manifested extreme antisemitic behavior
during the year 2001, especially after the September 11 events, including
attacks on Jewish targets. Some neo-fascist groups in Spain celebrated the September 11 attacks and
joined Islamic and pro-Palestinian groups in demonstrations against the US and Israel.
The Jewish population of Spain
numbers 14,000 out of a total population of 39.1 million. The main Jewish centers
are Madrid (3,500) and Barcelona (3,500). Smaller communities are located in other cities
and towns, notably Málaga, as well as Ceuta
and Melilla in Spanish North Africa.
The Federación de Comunidades Israelitas
de España (Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain) represents Jewish interests to the government. There are
Jewish day schools in Barcelona, Madrid and Málaga. A cultural journal, Raíces
(Roots) appears regularly. The Segovia-Israel Association of Cultural
Relations studies the influence of Jewish culture in Spain.
parties and extra-parliamentary groups
The leading radical right-wing party is Democracia Nacional (National Democracy –DN), which
emulates Jean-Marie Le Pen’s French Front National. It emerged in 1995 after the dissolution of
CEDADE and the Juntas Españolas of Juan Peligro. In addition to activists from those defunct groups, its leaders include members of Accion Radical, Nacion Joven,
Vanguardia Nacional Revolucionaria and Bases Autonomas. The DN’s ideology is openly xenophobic, rejecting
separatism from Spain, as
well as the existing
party system and the European Union.
DN leader Francisco Perez Corrales is the visible head of España 2000, which DN formed with three other far
right parties – Partido
Nacional de los Trabajadores (National Workers Party – PNT), Movimiento Social Republicano and Vertice Social Español – to run in the March 2000 elections. The
alliance won only 0.04 percent of the vote (see also ASW 2000/1).
Small traditionalist fascist
parties such as Falange Española de las Jons, Falange Española
and Falange Española Autentica are concerned mainly with their own
survival, with each polling well under 0.1 percent of the vote in the 2000
Española de las Jons
experienced some growth due to the absorption of groups such as Nacion Joven, Resistencia
Nacional de la Juventud and Patria Libre. Confederacion de ex combatientes
is an umbrella organization linking associations of veterans who yearn for Spain’s fascist past.
Alternativa Europea, Resistencia and Red Vértice constitute the Movimiento Social Republicano (Social Republican Movement – MSR), founded in mid- 2000. Led by Juan Antonio Llopart and
Juan Antonio Aguilar, the
MSR has been
actively pro-Palestinian, participating in demonstrations
together with non-governmental organizations and Islamic groups after the
September 11 attacks and
the military operation in Afghanistan. At these events, supporters
bore placards saying, “Palestine will overcome”
and “Against the [US] Terrorist
War: Neither war nor NATO. No to intervention.”
In addition, the MSR joined the
xenophobic protests of residents of Almeria against the establishment of a Moroccan
consulate there and
attended rallies organized by racist groups such as Blood & Honour. Within the MSR,
Resistencia is the most outspokenly pro-Palestinian
group and it clearly
demonstrated support for the September 11
Rex is a cultural association created to rehabilitate the
Belgian Waffen-SS general Leon Degrelle, the spiritual mentor of the Spanish
neo-Nazi movement who died in Spain in 1994. The association publishes a
magazine edited by the lawyer and academic José Luis Jerez Riesco, who
was a close collaborator of Degrelle.
Jerez Riesco, a well-known right wing
activist, was formerly connected to the neo-Nazi Fuerza Nueva and CEDADE (see ASW
1994 and subsequent reports). An article published in November 2001 by the
magazine Interviu, entitled “The ‘Conversion’ to Islam of Spanish Far
Rightists,” claimed that Jerez Riesco worked as the judicial consultant of the
Spanish Union of Islamic Communities (UCIDE), one of the two major associations
of Muslims in Spain. In June 2001 he spoke at a colloquium
in a Parisian mosque on Islam in Europe. On the program he was listed as Jose
Luis-Manzur Jerez Riesco, the “Manzur” indicating he had converted to Islam.
His relationship to French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy was revealed when he
wrote the foreword to the Spanish version of The Founding Myths of Israeli
It should be noted in connection with far
right support of Islamic/Arab actions that an Internet report of September 2001
of the Solidarity Committee with the Arab Cause denounced Nazi/fascist
infiltration of the Palestinian support movement. The committee reiterated that
not everything was acceptable in the struggle and that it was intolerable that
just demands of the Palestinians were being manipulated to revive and justify
Nazi/fascist and anti-Jewish positions.
The Islamic association Badr engages in religious
instruction of Muslim children in Melilla, an autonomous city in North Africa, and is considered close to Islamic
fundamentalism. The association was formed in the early 1990s by Mustafa Aberchan,
leader of the Coalition for Melilla (CpM) and former president of the
autonomous city (1999–2000). Allegations of its involvement in attacks in 2001
against a Christian church, a synagogue and the Jewish cemetery (see below)
were denied by Abdelkader Mohamed Ali, spokesman of Badr and former
representative of the Spanish party Izquierda Unida in the European Parliament.
Ali labeled the attack on the Jewish cemetery “repugnant” and “a barbarian act
inappropriate for a Muslim.”
In June 2001 police arrested an Algerian
national, Mohamed Bensakhria, allegedly a close collaborator of Usama bin Ladin.
Another Algerian arrested in Spain, Mohamed Belazziz, had been selected to take
part in a suicide bombing in Paris against the US
embassy and cultural center.
Following the September 11 attacks,
Spanish police dissolved several cells of the Grupo Salafista para la Predicación
y el Combate (Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat), a splinter group of
the Algerian terrorist GIA (see ASW 1997/8).
In November, police in Madrid and Granada arrested eleven Muslims, mostly of
Spanish nationality. The operation was aimed at dismantling a terrorist
infrastructure presumably linked to al-Qa‘ida. A Spaniard of Syrian origin, Imaz Edin
Barakat Yarbas (Abu Dada), head of the group, appeared to be the representative
of bin Ladin’s organization in Spain. According to the Interior Ministry,
they engaged in recruiting young Islamic radicals and sending them to terrorist
training camps in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
They also collected money to finance the mujahedin movements, often with stolen
credit cards, and provided forged identity cards, support and infrastructure to
The police increased their surveillance
over certain radical Islamic groups after they received evidence that one of
the suicide pilots was in Spain a few days before the 11 September attack.
Until then, the Spanish police and intelligence services had been convinced
that Islamic terrorists used Spain only as a safe resting place or as a bridge
to the rest of Europe, but investigations have revealed that Spain has been a
“logistical center for Europe,” where Islamic extremists obtain sophisticated
equipment, organize clandestine meetings and plan attacks.
AND RACIST ACTIVITIES
The Aftermath of 11 September
The governmental crisis committee formed in Spain in the wake of the September 11 attacks, ordered increased
surveillance over “sensitive” places (embassies, military bases and airports)
and declared a state of maximum alert in the country and in the autonomous
North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla.
In Ceuta Muslim youths celebrated the
attacks by burning the US flag, displaying the Palestinian one and
shouting anti-Jewish slogans. On 14 September, Molotov cocktails were thrown at
a Catholic church and the window of a Jewish shop was smashed. Antisemitic
slogans were scrawled on a Jewish shop on 15–16 September and children threw
stones and eggs at a synagogue during the Jewish New Year (18 Sept.). The
Spanish government sent reinforcements to Ceuta, partly to protect the Jewish community
during the New Year celebrations.
The local government played down the
seriousness of the attacks. According to official sources, radical Muslims in Ceuta, allegedly connected to the drug trafficking Mafia, were
creating a climate of agitation in the city in order to distract security forces
from the clandestine traffic of hashish.
In Melilla the Jewish cemetery was desecrated on 23
September. When the president of the Jewish community and some journalists
arrived to inspect the damage, a group of Arab youths shouted “Jewish pigs” and
pro-bin-Ladin slogans. Municipal workers who came to clean graffiti from the
wall of the cemetery were stoned and had to receive police protection. In
addition, rocks and bottles were thrown at the synagogue and “Death to the
Jews” was scrawled on the walls. Pro-bin Ladin slogans also appeared on a
Catholic church. Twelve Arab boys, allegedly supporters of Badr, were detained
for these offenses and later released.
A spokesman for the Islamic Commission of Melilla
branded the Moroccan ulemas (religious scholars) who pronounced a fatwa (religious edict)
against supporting a US attack on Afghanistan
as “fundamentalist.” He advised Melilla’s imams not to announce the fatwa
in the city’s mosques because it might be understood as “justifying terrorism.”
One Melilla imam urged his faithful to defend Afghanistan and to dissociate themselves from
“skeptics” – “Christians, Jews, Hindus and idolaters” – whom he denounced. The
representative of the Melilla government sent a translation of this
sermon to the Spanish attorney general in order to determine whether it
constituted a crime.
On the Spanish mainland, leaders of the
Islamic community condemned the September 11 attacks but doubted they were the
work of Usama bin Ladin or of Muslims. On 21 September, the imam of Valencia told worshipers: “All the evidence shows that the Jews are
Insults and Propaganda
Antisemitic remarks by the world president of the Internet company
Terra Lycos, Joaquin Agut, were reported by the journalist Jesus Cacho in the
magazine Epoca (no. 836). According to Cacho, at a dinner in honor of a
former director of the Terra company, Agut maintained: “I have done business
with Jews all my life and they have always tried to deceive me.” He went on to
say: “If someone has any problem with Jews he should tell me, I have some
cousins in Sicily who will take care of them.” He also
made some disparaging references to the Holocaust.
Representatives of the Spanish Jewish
community demanded a public explanation from Agut and an investigation by Cesar
Alierta, president of Telefónica, which owns 35 percent of Terra Lycos.
The American Jewish Congress (AJC) and B’nai B’rith International also sent
letters of protest. In mid-March, Alierta published a communiqué in the
media categorically denying that the alleged remarks had been made. The AJC
decided to accept his statement, in a communiqué published in New York on 28 March.
Antisemitic cartoons were published in the
leading Spanish newspaper El Pais. On 23 May Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon was shown standing beside a muse holding
a moustache. The caption read: “Cleo, muse of history putting Hitler’s
moustache on Ariel Sharon.” On May 24 another cartoon depicted a caricature of
an ultra-Orthodox Jew holding a flag, a holy book and a rifle. The caption
read: “We are the chosen people of weapons factories.”
In June 2001 Muslims in Melilla participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration. They
chanted antisemitic slogans and carried placards reading, “Jews, dregs of
humanity,” “[Jews] You are going to die,” Hebrews, you kill four thousand
people a day,” and “Hebrews are pigs.” Israeli flags were burned, swastikas
were displayed, and the youngest demonstrators (some only aged only five or
six) offered their “chests against Zionist bullets.” NATO, the European Union,
the UN and the US were described as “friends of the
Zionist invaders and enemies of the Muslims.” The Islamic association Badr
allegedly declared its support for the demonstration.
Dismissal of workers in May from the Potasa
factory in Barcelona provoked antisemitic accusations from
workers. The factory was bought by the Israeli Dead Sea Works in 1999. Workers
burned down the house of a manager, drew swastikas on the walls and wrote: “We
are not Palestinians: go back to Israel.” Employers and employees held meetings
to reduce tensions..
Shortly after 11
September 2001, the
Florida-based server Stormfront of the American White Supremacist Don
Black struck the Spanish neo-Nazi Nuevorden (www.nuevorden.org) off its client list,
explaining in Spanish:
watched with deep anger and disgust the unfeigned joy with which many
“patriots” from Spain and from other countries have
welcomed the attack against our own country, which has so far given you the
opportunity to put information on line through this site. Thousands of my
fellow countrymen have been killed by Arabs, who also invade your country and
threaten the entire West. However, we see that many National Socialists like
you do whatever is possible to justify what is unjustifiable.
The message concluded with “Good luck and bye. On this our
day of mourning, we apologize for not welcoming you any more at this site which
has up to now been yours as well. GOD BLESS AMERICA.”
A US flag fluttered under the message. This
declaration manifests serious differences between US white supremacists and
some of their European brethren.
After a few weeks, Nuevorden
reappeared on the Internet from a new server in the US,
which appears to be closer to them ideologically. Nuevorden’s first
editorial, entitled “Serving Liberty,” complained that in Spain “it is virtually impossible to express our opinions … except
in repressive trials [reference is to the trial of right-wing extremist Pedro
Varela, owner of the Europe bookshop – see ASW 2000/1].”
They noted that throughout Europe “incredible” laws, which prohibit any
deviation “from the dogmas of capitalist democracy,” have been passed.
The rector’s office and many students at Carlos III University received racist electronic mail messages
which reproached them for their support of immigrant communities. One of the
letters was signed by the “Spanish National Socialist Party” and another
offered more information about Spanish neo-Nazis through the Nuevorden
website. The secretary of education said blocking incoming electronic mail with
Nazi content at the university would be too problematic. Voicing his concern
about the multiplicity of racist outbreaks in Madrid
universities, he announced that he was planning to propose the creation of a
study program to “raise student awareness to the enriching qualities of
Other Racist Incidents
According to a survey on Spanish attitudes to immigration,
conducted by the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas in March 2001,
42 percent of citizens thought there were too many immigrants in Spain and 32 percent considered immigration the principal social
problem in Spain, ahead of unemployment, drugs and
terrorism. It should be pointed out that immigrants constitute only 2 percent
of the population in Spain, five times less than in France or Germany.
Several minors were arrested in
March in Alquerias (Murcia)
participation in violent and xenophobic incidents after a demonstration in
which residents of the town demanded increased security measures against a wave
of robberies in the region. After the demonstration, the youngsters set fire to an abandoned warehouse where immigrants were once housed
overnight, and then
proceeded to attack
two immigrants, a Bulgarian woman and an Ecuatorian man, with baseball bats and chains.
The extreme right-wing PNT (see above), whose
heaquarters are in Murcia, asked the government of Murcia for permission to carry out a
“first major anti-immigration march” on 1 April in Torre Pacheco. Permission
was refused because the authorities feared an outbreak of xenophobic incidents
in the region, where foreigners make up a large part of the population. The PNT
announcement of the march on the Internet received the support of other far
TOWARD THE HOLOCAUST and the nazi era
In May, Jewish institutions and organizations in Madrid, together with the Israeli embassy, led a candle lighting
ceremony in memory of the Holocaust. The main commemorative ceremony took place
in the Asamblea de Madrid, (regional parliament), for the second consecutive
The government of Aragon
plans to request that documents found in the old international border station of
Canfranc in the Pyrenees be transferred to the state archives.
These documents, discovered by a French citizen born of Spanish emigrant
parents, prove that Franco’s Spain concealed the entry from Switzerland of more than 86 tons of Nazi gold,
stolen from European banks and from concentration camp prisoners, of which 12
tons remained in Spain during World War II. Surviving witnesses
in Canfranc recall that gold ingots entered Spain
through Canfranc, under the eye of the Guardia Civil (civil guard).
The German government will compensate
almost 200 (non-Jewish) Spanish forced laborers from the Nazi era with sums of
up to 5,000 marks.
to racism and antisemitism
The Association against Intolerance has detected an
increasing “Islamophobia” and “identification of all that is Arabic with
terrorism,” especially in schools and among youth. The association warned that
“stigmatization” of the Islamic community would provoke an increase of
violence. Two cars belonging to Muslims were burned and a mosque was attacked
in the city of Marbella.
The Jewish electronic
bulletin Gueshernews (www.guesherweb.com) in
its issue of September/October 2001 noted “two apparently contradictory
attitudes” in Spanish public opinion: on the one hand, demonization of the
Muslim and on the other, demonization of Israel (or the Jews in general in some
cases). Both were equally worrying – in fact they were faces of the same coin.
Antisemitism, disguised as support for the Palestinian cause, had proved once
again its capacity to justify absolute atrocities through the use of
dialectical acrobatics. The anti-Muslim trend was nourished by a profound
xenophobic sentiment. “We condemn [these attitudes] not only from an ethical
point of view but also from a pragmatic one: when a minority suffers defamation
and discrimination, [other minorities] are in danger as well.”
The Assembly of the Autonomous City of Melilla
held a minute’s silence following the September 11 attacks and some Muslim
associations spoke out against Muslim youth that had supported them. A few days
later, during the celebration of the 504th anniversary of the Spanish
foundation of the city, an Interdenominational Committee of Melilla was
created. Consisting of representatives of the four principal religious
communities, Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Hindu, its purpose is to work for
peaceful coexistence and understanding among religions.
King Juan Carlos of Spain told European Jewish representatives in June that he
regretted the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492 and welcomed their presence in