The fact that Jorge Fernández Díaz gets to keep his job as Spanish Home Secretary is not merely a grave political error, but an insult to anyone who believes in democracy. This newspaper has tirelessly criticised him for his poor performance and has repeatedly urged him to step down. We did so when he refused to look into the publication of a fake report by the UDEF (1) about Catalan president Artur Mas. Then again, when fifteen immigrants died on the beach in Ceuta. And also when a fake police report was leaked, claiming that Barcelona’s mayor, Xavier Trias, had a Swiss bank account.
We have criticised some aspects of the public security law that restricts civil liberties --for instance, the right to demonstrate--, effectively turning Spain into a police state. And we have decried Fernández Díaz’s statements against the Catalan independence process, such as when he accused it of jeopardising Catalonia’s peaceful living and of being a source of “family and neighbourly rows”. But now we have run out of words to describe what he did yesterday, following the arrest of an alleged jihadi cell by Catalan police. The Spanish minister accused the Catalan independence movement of colluding with radical Islam and being a hindrance to the fight against extremists. The tone --and especially the content-- of his words is both shocking and shameful. To claim that the Fundació Nous Catalans (a foundation with ties to Mas’ CDC) is a hurdle in Spain’s strategy against radical Islam is simply utter nonsense. The Fundació Nous Catalans (Foundation for New Catalans, in English) informs immigrant communities about the independence process and teaches them about Catalonia. Hinting that the pro-independence movement not only causes widespread poverty and international isolation but might be behind a terrorist attack sets a new low in demagogy and malice.
Jihadism as a phenomenon is grave enough to refrain from making frivolous remarks and avoid using it for partisan purposes. All Catalan political parties in Madrid’s parliament should unite in a resolution of censure against the minister, urging PM Rajoy to dismiss him. Every day that Fernández stays in his job is a new stain in the history of democracy and further proof of the Spanish government’s inability to keep up with a mature, cohesive society such as Catalonia’s.
(1) N.T. The UDEF is a branch of Spain’s police force that investigates financial crimes