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Incitement of Hatred

Incitement of Hatred

Despite generally more positive attitudes toward minorities than in many other European countries, right-wing forces are also becoming more active in inciting hatred. The main indicator here is the positions of right-wing parties. 2018 and 2019 marked the end of the so-called Spanish "exceptionalism" in terms of political parties with anti-migrant views. Until then, no political party with anti-immigration views was represented in the Spanish parliament, as was the case in many other European countries.

This was due to a number of reasons, mainly echoes of the Franco period and the existence of a kind of political consensus not to politicize migration issues (with very few exceptions), which had a clear impact on the attitudes of the majority of the population. However, now that the far-right Vox party has entered the political scene with institutional representation and more media attention, this may change. With Vox, this political consensus has been broken, and we are witnessing not only the politicization of migration issues in Spain, but also the emergence of xenophobic discourse among politicians, mostly from Vox (but not only).

On the other hand, media attention to issues related to migration and the portrayal of ethnic minorities seems to be a key factor in the formation and evolution of attitudes both toward migration and toward other ethnic and religious minorities. While there are numerous deontological guidelines on how the media should report on minority issues, the repetition of stereotypes and the association of Roma and migrants with crime and even Muslims with terrorism contribute to the stigmatization of these groups.

As a rule, these groups rarely have a voice and tend to be mentioned only in connection with negative news such as conflict or crime. Similarly, some phenomena, such as arriving by sea or entering through the southern border, are overreported in the Spanish media. Several papers have proven a correlation between such coverage and negative attitudes toward minorities.

Finally, the increase in negative attitudes in recent years may also be related to a change in the cycle in the number of migrants arriving in Spain. After several years of declining numbers arriving in Spain, mainly due to the economic crisis, immigration to Spain increased significantly in 2018 (about 20% more than in 2017). In addition, the number of irregular arrivals by sea in southern Spain increased significantly in 2018 (68,000, up from 28,000 in 2017 and 8,000 in 2016), which caused a great deal of media coverage. While this mode of entry was the same in 2019 as it was in 2017, and it was low for most of 2020, by the end of 2020 the number of arrivals to the Canary Islands had peaked again, as had the media attention to this phenomenon, which, although it receives a lot of attention in the media and in public discourse, is only a small part of the migration phenomenon.

Finally, online hate speech against migrants, minorities and ethnic groups remains a huge problem. Social media and online forums continue to be an arena of hate speech against Roma as well as against Muslims, according to the Citizens Platform Against Islamophobia's annual report for 2020. In the end, online hate speech against migrants, minorities and ethnic groups remains a huge problem.

In addition, there is a general consensus that the Catalan crisis (which gained momentum in the fall of 2017) has led to an increase in the popularity of neo-fascist groups. In fact, the activities of these groups became more prominent after the celebration of the results of the referendum held on October 1, 2017. Since then, many Spanish nationalists, including moderates and extremists, have found a reason to show themselves publicly in places like Catalonia, where they had previously maintained a low profile and rarely engaged in any public activity.

So after this vote, the media in Catalonia and other parts of the country reported various concentrations of Spanish ultra-nationalists. For example, on the day of the referendum, a neo-fascist ultra group organized a demonstration in favor of Spanish unity in Castellón, Valencia, with about 70 participants. On the same day, a similar demonstration took place in Madrid. A few weeks later in Barcelona, 5 people were injured during an anti-Semitic demonstration, in which case it was described as "neo-Nazi violence. Similarly, on November 15, 21 ultras affiliated with radical soccer clubs were detained for participating in a bar scuffle after a demonstration in favor of Spanish unity in Barcelona.

Also in 2020, there were several incidents related to COVID-19. At the beginning of the year there were cases of insults, bullying and online hatred of people of Asian nationality who were accused of spreading the virus. It was also reported that several messages were widely circulated via WhatsApp, accusing Roma of not following hygiene and quarantine rules. It was also reported that several messages were circulated widely, accusing Roma of not following hygiene and quarantine rules.

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