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King Felipe VI’s presence in Barcelona antiterrorist march causes discomfort

Some see Spanish monarchy as “indirectly responsible” for the attacks because of his relationship with Saudi Arabia

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25 August 2017 03:25 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The king of Spain, Felipe VI, has finally decided to attend the demonstration to be held on Saturday in Barcelona. The possible presence of the monarch at the antiterrorism march has generated controversy during the past few days. Some far-left Catalan parties such as the CUP criticized him for being “indirectly responsible” for the attacks. Meanwhile, some 170 Catalan organizations have organized an event on Sunday just before the march to protest the “hypocrisy” of the Spanish monarchy and government. They claim the royal family facilitates the sale of weapons to countries such as Saudi Arabia, which are thought to fund the Islamic State.

The Spanish king will attend the demonstration along with the Spanish president, Mariano Rajoy, and most of his ministers. Queen Letizia will not travel to the Catalan capital. Representatives of emergency services and community members who responded to the attacks will be at the head of the rally, while the authorities will follow a few meters behind, together for security reasons. “We will not march next to the people who are incompatible with our interpretation of the events,” said a CUP spokesperson. “We do not want to repeat the hand-kissing of last Friday’s moment of silence,” she added. Felipe VI and Mariano Rajoy attended the tribute the day after the attacks. 

 “The demonstration is not a show of support to any institution,” says the Catalan government

The Catalan government replied to critics by saying that “the demonstration is not a show of support to any person or any institution”. “Tomorrow we have an appointment with one common goal: to contribute to the defeat of terrorism with a civic effort made by very diverse people, who think very differently,” said Catalan President Puigdemont.

Both cabinets in Barcelona and Madrid have agreed that politicians will not lead the march. Rajoy’s executive representative in Catalonia said that the king’s presence in the event on Saturday is an evidence of his “sensitivity” towards Barcelona. “The vast majority of Catalans are proud of the king’s spirit of solidarity,” he added. The Catalan leader of the People’s Party –the ruling party in Spain–claimed that the CUP is “more comfortable with ETA terrorists than with democrats”.

Over 800 media professionals from 83 countries to attend rally

Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau, also called on the public to attend Saturday’s rally, and gave further details of the event, which will include a “short, austere” ceremony at which Pau Casals’ ‘The Song of the Birds’ will be played by cellos. Thousands of flowers are to be distributed to the public, while 853 media professionals from 83 countries will also attend. “This has to be a people’s demonstration,” stressed Colau.

The Parliament issues a manifesto highlighting "the response given by Catalans" 

The Catalan Parliament also paid tribute to the victims and expressed its “condemnation” of terrorism in a 10-minute extraordinary plenary session. Its president, Carme Forcadell, read a manifesto representing all lawmakers in the chamber in which they “send condolences to the victims” in Barcelona and Cambrils. The text also highlights “the response given by the Catalan people”, including the citizens’ “civic reaction” and the “effectiveness” of the emergency and security corps. According to the manifesto, the communication between Catalan institutions and police “have made the country's citizens feel secure”. 

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  • The King of Spain, Felipe VI, signs the condolence book next to the Queen Letizia