Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Big news around here: Police arrested sixteen alleged jihadists around Spain yesterday, sixteen in Catalonia, one in Aranjuez, and one in Málaga. Fourteen are Moroccan and two Algerian. These guys are a cell that recruits volunteers for Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the fourth big roundup of Islamists accused of recruiting mujihadeen in Spain in the last eighteen months. You won't be surprised to learn that Baltasar Garzón is the investigating magistrate who ordered the arrests. The police confiscated lots of of computer equipment and mobile phones and the like.

Disquieting detail: One of those arrested was Taoufik Cheddadi, who is the imam in the Barcelona suburbs of Badalona, Santa Coloma, and Mollet. Cheddadi is "the president of the Amics (Friends) association and the former owner of a bookstore on Liszt street in Badalona. Cheddadi, who was in custody for 48 hours in 2002, is a well-known person who has a reputation for a pro-integration message and for his repetition of the idea 'Not all we Muslims are terrorists'." If Cheddadi is really mixed up in the recruiting of terrorists, this to me is a sign that his association is a mere front for his real operations. Makes you wonder if there are any more terrorists hiding behind NGOs.

However, of course, public and media opinion in Barcelona are convinced that Islamist violence is America's fault.

La Vangua runs a roundup on what the Europress thought of the Spanish elections. Le Monde, Le Figaro, Libération, The Independent, and the Corriere della Sera all agree that nothing very interesting happened. Their choice of newspapers to quote from is noteworthy, three French, one British, and one Italian; Paris is still the center of civilization for Catalans over about 50. I'd have found a German and a Portuguese paper to react and left out two of the Frenchies. Oh, well, who cares, it's not like it's important. Note: Spain pays surprisingly little attention to Portugal, even less than the US pays to Canada.

Oxfam wants the West to pay $50 billion to the Third World in order to counteract the effects of global warming. Yeah, right. When pigs fly.

On the American immigration plan: I can't say I'm for it. America should welcome legal immigrants, which it does; there's no better country except maybe Australia in which to be a legal immigrant, and if you take out citizenship you are treated as one of us, which is not true in continental Europe. But illegal immigrants are breaking the law, and you can't do that. What I would do is spend the damn money and build the fence all the way along the Mexican border, and then introduce a national ID card that you would need to show when getting a job, opening a bank account, etc., just like in Spain. It's not like we don't already have Social Security cards and drivers licenses anyway. Then, after we had the border closed, I would announce an amnesty for illegal immigrants who had no police record who wanted to pay a fine and take out a temporary residence permit; within two years they would have to pass a fairly simple test of English and American law and government. And, of course, we should continue letting in about a million legal immigrants every year.

The Cope Radio-El Mundo conspiracy theory blaming some combination of the PSOE, ETA, and the Bavarian Illuminati for the March 11 bombings is as dead as a doornail, thank God.

I was remiss in not linking to this very good article from the Wall Street Journal comparing Spanish and American politics. A must-read. Quote:

Primarily what many Spaniards prefer not to discuss in their politics is Socialist Prime Minister Zapatero's determination to assign official responsibility for the Spanish Civil War to the supporters of Gen. Francisco Franco. Some half-million died in that conflict. After Franco died in 1975, virtually all political parties were determined to make Spain a democracy and achieved it with a new constitution in 1978. As important, however, was the informal social pact to submerge the political bitterness of the civil war, no easy thing for Spain's people.

At the moment, the Spanish are doing a pretty good job of negotiating the emotional tripwires and tensions created by Mr. Zapatero's determination to dance with the ghosts of those awful years. But even an outsider feels a palpable concern that the volatile emotions always beneath the surface of Spain's politics have the potential to blow apart what has been achieved in the past 30 years.

This is a bit excessive; I don't think Spanish democracy is going to come anywhere near "blowing apart." He's right, though, that Zapatero is the first important Spanish politician to wave the bloody shirt of the Civil War since the restoration of democracy.

Remember Iberian Notes's position on the Spanish Civil War: We wish it hadn't happened, and we have no sympathies for either side, as both murdered thousands of their civilian "enemies" behind the lines. Our problem with Zap is that he's talking as if the Left were the good guys, when there were no good guys.

No comments: