Spain has a long, chequered and fascinating history and it is now facing a new chapter which could mark the dawn of a divided nation. Central government is already locked in a political battle with Catalonia over its push for independence, with a number of other regions hinting at wanting greater powers of self-rule. There is talk of a federal Spain.
But more worringly, against the changing political backdrop with the emergence of extreme left and right parties which are making inroads in to mainstream politics, is an increase in religious discrimination and hate crimes, mostly against Muslims, according to a report issued by the country’s Interior Ministry. The report said that there was a 120 per cent increase in hate crimes in 2017 with a total of 103 incidents compared to the previous year - 39 out of 41 cases related to religious hate crimes in 2017 were about Islamophobia. And the figures for last year will soon be released and no doubt feature in the election campaigns - on both sides.
The socialist-led central government has been understanding to the plight of illegal immigrants fleeing persecution, while other European countries have closed their doors. But the right-wing parties, which are moving further to the right every day as they scrap for votes, want to come down hard on immigration, even loosen gun laws. This is not the way to tackle hate crime.