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Top Catalan intellectuals criticise 'inaccurate, offensive' article about bullfighting in The Economist

A group of 28 academics, writers and journalists from Catalonia consider 'tendentious' the British journal?s treatment of the Catalan Parliament's decision to ban bullfighting

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06 August 2010 11:33 PM

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laura.pous
Concerns in Catalonia are growing about an article in The Economist that criticises the Catalan Parliament’s decision to ban bullfighting. Last week Emma's Community, a group of Catalans who live abroad and seek to protect Catalonia's international reputation voiced regret about the article. Twenty-eight top intellectuals have now followed in their footsteps. In a letter they sent to the journal, which has not yet been published, the intellectuals express their “strong” disagreement with The Economist's treatment of the issue.
This group of distinguished public figures defines as “tendentious” the headline of the article: “Catalonia: the land of the ban.” They are particularly displeased by the sentence which reads, “[Catalans have] a taste for outlawing whatever irks them.” The intellectuals consider such an affirmation to be “inaccurate, offensive and out of place,” especially for a publication of The Economist's calibre.

“As people who know Catalonia well, we fail to recognize in those expressions what we have always found to be a progressive, open-minded and welcoming society,” they said in the letter. The intellectuals –some of whom work for prestigious universities in the UK and the US- ask for revisions to be made. “We would expect The Economist to be able to offer its readers a more truthful account of the state of things in Catalonia today.”

Those promoting the letter include distinguished academics such as Salvador Cardús i Ros, Dean of the School of Political Science and Sociology in the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Montserrat Guibernau, professor of Politics in the Queen Mary University of London, Oriol Pi-Sunyer, Emeritus Professor in the University of Massachusetts, and the Catalan writer, Isabel Clara-Simó.

Why foreign reports on Catalonia usually displease Catalans

The 29 July article on bullfighting in The Economist is not the only one that has created controversy in Catalonia. In 2008, another article in the same journal voiced disapproval of the country’s linguistic system, referring to the former Catalan president, Jordi Pujol as “cacique.” This also provoked wide-scale criticism in Catalonia, and even provoked a direct response from the Generalitat. Similar articles in other international newspapers motivated this group of distinguished Catalans abroad to monitor reports about Catalan politics to create the website Emma’s Community as a hub for related activities.

The Emma’s Community spokesperson, Salvador Garcia-Ruiz, said in an interview with CNA that the reason for which some international newspapers publish “biased” accounts of Catalan politics is that their correspondents are only based in Madrid. Garcia-Ruiz explained that foreign correspondents only too often get the information from the right-wing Madrid press, which is typically critical of Catalonia.

Thus, foreign reporting about topics such as the use of the Catalan and Spanish languages in Catalonia, the money that Catalans pay and get back from the central state or the ban on bullfighting are largely based on inputs from the press in Madrid.

“There is usually confusion on those topics,” said Garcia-Ruiz.

He stated that foreign correspondents often write “in the same terms as El Mundo or la Cope ,media which suggest that Catalans do not have “solidarity” with the rest of Spain, that they “penalise” the Spanish language or ban bull-fighting because they practice “excluding nationalism.” According to Garcia-Ruiz, the journal which is most belligerent about Catalonia is The Economist, while the most positive angle on the region is presented in the French newspaper, Le Monde.

Emma's Community writes to all newspapers that report on Catalonia, seeking to “answer with objective figures and data.” As regards the issue of bullfighting, the group wrote to several journalists, arguing that “banning bullfighting, a cruel torture to animals, does not separate Catalonia from Spain, but rather represents a step away from the country and closer to Europe.”

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  • The article in 'The Economist' about the ban on bullfighting

  • The article in 'The Economist' about the ban on bullfighting

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