Anti-racism group condemns Catalonia's 'institutionalized Islamophobia'

SOS Racisme report says protocol to "monitor" Muslims exists across police, justice, education, health and social services

An activist from the Association of Muslims Against Islamaphobia (MCI) during a protest, August 26, 2017 (by Pere Francesch)
An activist from the Association of Muslims Against Islamaphobia (MCI) during a protest, August 26, 2017 (by Pere Francesch) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 5, 2021 05:30 PM

A new report from the anti-racism group SOS Racisme is deeply critical of the protocols it says exist in Catalonia to "monitor" the Muslim population.

The study, 'Institutional Islamophobia and Security', concludes that Muslims feel "watched and criminalized" both through political discourse and by regulations and protocols implemented in Catalonia, whether in the field of local police, schools, social services or health.

"They all feel that security is for others and against them. They all feel perceived and treated as the main threat to national security," the report says.

On a Spain-wide level, in the framework of its anti-terrorism policy, the state makes use of existing coercive legislation, such as the Law on Citizen Security and the Penal Code, to allow an "Islamophobic narrative, opening the door to discrimination against the Muslim population and other groups," according to the report.

Justice and policing

The report is critical of several aspects of the legal system and policing. It claims that anti-terrorism legislation "articulates a police and judicial strategy with citizen surveillance," and that "investigations can be justified" by "the mere expression of ideas."

It criticizes police forces for visiting mosques without warning, checking and asking about the people who attend and requesting security camera recordings.


With regard to schools, the report focuses in particular on the Protocol for the Prevention, Detection and Intervention in Processes of Islamist Radicalization (PRODERAI), in force in Catalonia since 2015, which in the 2016-2017 academic year saw 5,579 staff from the Department of Education given training on Islamist radicalization.

"The idea is mounting that Muslims are a danger and Europe is in constant danger, which translates into surveillance of Muslim students," the report says. This is a "protocol for criminalizing the Muslim population" because it generates a "constant suspicion of the Muslim population" that "affects all sectors and all ages."

"Urgent" review

SOS Racisme has called for an "urgent" review of police and judicial activity in the context of terrorism in order to seek "justice and reparation" for all individuals, families and communities that have been affected by these actions, either because they have been unjustly accused, imprisoned and stigmatized or because the climate of surveillance and suspicion has deprived them of a peaceful, safe and dignified life.

The research was based on 26 interviews with politicians, social workers and experts; discussion groups in Barcelona and Madrid with Muslims aged 20 to 50; interviews with staff from the Barcelona Public Prosecutor's Office for Hate Crimes, the Catalan Ombudsman, the Anti-Rumor Network of the Barcelona Interculturality Plan and the Municipal Plan against Islamophobia, as well as two discussion groups with activists.