The issue of proclaiming the declaration of independence by the Catalan authorities was covered at length by the European media, however the fact that behind push for autonomy there are also local Muslim communities gets almost no coverage in Europe and Poland not at all.
The average European has no idea that Catalonia has become an important bridgehead of expansion of Islam on our continent over the past years. The main sponsor of this process are Quatari authorities (actively supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and the Hezbollah), ready to pay a lot of money with a view to building a future Islamic sphere of influence here.
For years leftist groups holding the rule of power in Barcelona have deliberately forced for nearly 30 years the migration of Muslims from Morocco and Pakistan, wanting to not only acquire cheap workers for the dynamically developing Catalan economy but also the advocates of the process of full separation from Madrid.
A few bright sparks, with Jordi Pujol at the helm of the Catalonian government until 2003, thought that instead of Hispanics from the poor countries of South America, naturally oriented to Spanish traditions and culture, it is better to invest in Moroccans or Pakistanis. Those who, if they have to learn a new language, will learn Catalan first, which will automatically bind them to the province and its social system. It was believed that in this simple way the demographic gap resulting from the dramatic aging of native Catalans would be filled.
Today, Catalonia has become the main place of settlement for Muslims in Spain. The population of over 500,000 (compared to 7.4 million province residents) is more than all the voters of parties such as Partid Popular (PP), Podemos oder Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) pushing for the independence of Catalonia. In 2012, in the Girona region, the second most popular name was Mohamed, and in the Segarra Lerida region in 2014, over 55% of children were foreigners. The Municipality of Salt Girona, where out of 30,000 inhabitants 12,000 are Muslims, is being described by the security experts as “the new Mecca of radical Salafists”.
In a radio interview for RTC 1, the mayor of Salt, Jaume Torramadé, talked about the consequences for those living in the region: „Only recently did women from the Maghreb countries were clearly oriented towards the western lifestyle. Currently it is changing. As the number of Muslims continues to grow here, there are clerics who force their brothers to follow Sharia law, including dress code. Until now Muslim women wore jeans, like European women, nowadays they are more often seen in shawls. It is the Imams who demand such distance from them”.
„After the Barcelona attack, instead of reflection, leftist circles immediately defended the Muslim community in Catalonia”
Salafi communities Catalonia mushroomed lately. In Barcelona alone there are 5 mosques belonging to this radical faction of Islam. Three years ago, the local Muslim community, financially supported by the Qataris, tried to buy the deserted historical arena of bullfighting from the authorities of the Catalan capital. After the ban on the corrida, the building was in danger of ruin. Then investors from Qatar appeared and made a purchase offer. The German daily FAZ described attempts to sell the object to the Qataris with the headline „Arena for Allah.” The envoys of Qatar’s emirs were ready to put up as much as EUR 2 billion to cut the deal and to be able to make the ancient corrida the largest mosque in Western Europe. According to the plan, its extension provided for the creation of a temple for 40,000 faithful with a 300 m high minaret that would outshine the nearby famous Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Ultimately the transaction, also in the face of numerous protests by the residents of Barcelona did not materialize, and the monumental building was adapted to a large commercial and service center with a magnificent viewing terrace, from where you can admire the panorama of the city.
The Qatari thread also appeared due to sponsorship for the famous FC Barcelona – four years ago, the airline’s main patron was the airline, Qatar Airways. The contract expires this season, but the Quataris will stay with Barcelona, only in a different role. – „Qatar Airways wants to continue to be our sponsor. They helped us a lot” – explains Vice President Manuel Arroyo. „We are now thinking of continued partnership with Qatar Airways as the official airline for the club”.
In the shadow of this and other transactions is a football celebrity, a Catalan, Pep Guardiola, once a player of the legendary „Barca”, who later in 2003 – 2005 played in the Qatari Al-Ahli SC club and publicly praised the realities of the Qatari emirate: „Qatar is the most free an Islamic country that really wants to open itself to the West,” he said. Meanwhile, the French football magazine „France Football” accuses the former Barcelona coach that he has received 11 million euros from the Qataris under the guise of funds for advertising. In the rematch, he became one of the emirate’s main advocates in his efforts to organize the World Cup in 2022. At the same time, Guardiola is one of those Spanish celebrities who openly support the pursuit of independence in the Spanish province.
It was during the term of Guardiola in Bayern that the main place of winter training for players from Munich became the centre in Qatar. This was officially justified by the necessity to prepare players’ fitness before the championships planned in 2022. The prestigious „Die Zeit” then posted an open letter from one of the fans, who expressed indignation that the club’s authorities legitimise in this way in the international sports community a country that repeatedly violates basic human rights.
Another influential figure in the independence movement of Catalonia, at the same time one strongly connected with the Qatari sponsorship, is the Syrian Mowafak Kanfach. A committed opponent of the Assad regime, he founded the Islamic Federation of Catalonia in Barcelona, he also collaborates with the association „Catalans of migrant descent,” engaging in activities for the independence of Catalonia. It was Kanfach who was considered the architect of the idea of transforming Arenas de Barcelona into a gigantic mosque. He said that the inhabitants of Barcelona would „welcome with enthusiasm” the fact that in a place that „witnessed the great suffering of animals for years, Muslims will create a new spiritual center of the city”.
For months, Kanfach and his people have been involved in demonstrations of Catalan separatists and support efforts to break Catalonia away from Madrid, arguing, among other reasons, that independence will foster better integration of local Muslims. One of the Salafi preachers, who sympathised with the separatists, explained it even more clearly: „Muslims should support independence parties as long as they need our voices. They still do not know that in the future everyone will vote only for Islamic parties, because for Muslims, the division into the left and the right does not matter. When our parties win the local elections, the process of „implementing Islam in the autonomous region of Catalonia” ” will begin.
When in February this year, crowds of many thousands walked the street of Barcelona (according to various estimates from 160,000 to 300,000) demonstrating in favour of the opening of Spain to illegal migration, there were supporters of the separatists with Catalonia flags and prominent representatives of Muslim societies.
During the demonstration under the slogan „Our home – your home”, the government of Prime Minister M. Rajoy was jointly called on to abandon the current restrictive asylum policy, there were chants: „Enough excuse, start accepting refugees”. The aim of the organizers, representing mainly the left, was to show that in contrast to those currently ruling in Madrid, the Catalans are a tolerant society and open to accepting strangers who dream about living in Europe.
The fact that a few months later, on the La Rambla promenade, Islamists carried out an assassination and again the blood of innocent people was spilled, was not a turning point for the Barcelona’s authorities. Instead of reflection, the leftist circles immediately defended the Muslim community in Catalonia, according to a pattern we also know from France, Germany or Great Britain.
The icon of the current independence movement, the head of the provincial government, Carlos Puigdemont, said: „In Catalonia, there are about 200,000 Moroccans who are part of the normal life of this state, who pray, work, take part in public life, and therefore it is unjust to portray the Muslim community as a hotbed of radicalization, “and the head of the Catalan Mossos d’Esquadra, Josep Lluis Trapero, urged „not to announce mosques in places of preparations for assassinations” because „these are places where people pray”.
According to the findings of the investigation after the coup, the brain of the operation was to be an Islamic cleric, a 45-year-old Abdelbalaki Es Satty from Morocco, who used his two years in Spanish prison for drug trafficking to recruit volunteers for Islamic State. The group led by imam had gathered, in one of the villas in the city of Alcanar, an arsenal of gas cylinders, which, the police assume, the conspirators intended to use to blow up the famous Sagrada Familia.
Regardless of how the events in Spain will go on, it can already be seen that with the great help of the separatists, Catalonia has turned into a Mediterranean center for the expansion of radical Islam.
11 Years ago, the then US ambassador to Spain, Eduardo Aguirre, sent a telegram to Washington. The document was classified as secret and revealed by the Madrid daily “El Pais”, states:
„Increased migration, whether legal or not, from North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) and from South Asian countries (Pakistan, Bangladesh) has made Catalonia a recruitment magnet for terrorists. The Spanish services estimate that over in Barcelona and its vicinity live 60,000 of Pakistani citizens, mostly men, single, unmarried and without legal residence. An even larger group of such people comes from North Africa. They live in isolation from the Spanish society, do not speak the language, are often unemployed and have only a few places where they can practice their own religion in a dignified way. This alone is an extremely fertile ground for the recruitment of potential terrorists. There is no doubt that the Catalan Province has become the operational base for terrorist activities, but representatives of the Spanish services say that their intelligence capabilities in these communities are negligible. The likelihood of their deportation from Spain is even smaller”.
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Post scriptum. A few weeks ago public in Germany was shocked by the murder of a two-year-old, who was found in Hamburg with a cut throat. The murdered turned out to be 33-year-old Pakistani, the girl’s father. The police were looking for the murderer for a week, it turned out though that he has quickly left German territory. After intensive search, the Pakistani was captured in northern Spain, where he tried to hide, using the help of compatriots living there.
Agnieszka E. Wolska
The Polish original: Katalońska niepodległość z islamem w tle