Catalonia: Fascists caught making Nazi salutes during anti-Catalan independence protest

Far-right protesters also chanted 'Viva Franco' in reference to Spain's former dictator 

Clip shows far-right protesters chanting “Viva Franco” – a reference to Spain's former dictator General Francisco Franco
Clip shows far-right protesters chanting “Viva Franco” – a reference to Spain's former dictator General Francisco Franco

Fascists have been seen making Nazi salutes and clashing with police officers during a protest against the Catalonian independence vote in Barcelona.

Hundreds of thousands of people descended on the streets of the Catalan capital on Sunday to take part in a pro-unity rally in favour of the region remaining in Spain.

The protest, which took place just two days after the Catalan regional parliament made a unilateral declaration of independence, was tainted by small outbreaks of violence from neo-Nazis.

Police confront protesters in Barcelona who accuse separatists of leading a coup d'etat

Footage from the predominantly peaceful demonstration showed neo-Nazi protesters draped in Spanish flags raising their right hands in Sieg Hiel salutes reminiscent of pro-Hitler rallies in Nazi Germany.

Another clip showed far-right protesters chanting “Viva Franco” – a reference to Spain's former dictator General Francisco Franco.

Tensions boiled over into street clashes between fascists and baton-wielding police officers. A neo-Nazi protester with a swastika tattoo emblazoned on his hand could be seen clashing with Catalonian security forces.

While the organising association, the Societat Civil Catalana [SCC], calculated the total turnout of Catalan and Spanish flag-waving protesters to be well over a million, local authorities provided a much lower estimate of 300,000.

This is not the first time fascist salutes have broken out at a pro-unity rally. Earlier in October, a small group of protesters in Madrid rallying under the slogan “for the unity of Spain” appeared to flash fascist salutes in a procession led by a group aligning themselves with far-right party Falange Española‏ de las Jons, which held power during the Francoist dictatorship period of the country.

Use of the salute is illegal in some countries. In Germany, Slovakia, and Austria, the gesture is deemed a criminal offence but in countries like Canada and France, it is viewed as hate speech if used for disseminating Nazi ideology.

The most recent protests come after Catalonia’s dismissed deputy president announced he rejects what he branded a “coup d’etat” by the Spanish government. Oriol Junqueras said "the president of the country is and will remain Carles Puigdemont."

He made the comments in an article for Catalan newspaper El Punt Avui which he signed off "Vice President of the government of Catalonia."

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took direct control of the region after it voted in favour of an independent republic. This is to be carried out under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution which allows Madrid to impose direct rule.

The national government in Madrid dismissed Mr Puigdemont and Mr Junqueras.

Mr Rajoy said the declaration of independence "not only goes against the law but is a criminal act" and announced the looming dissolution of the Catalan parliament, the closure of Catalan embassies abroad and issued a call for regional elections.

In a scathing attack, Mr Puigdemont accused Mr Rajoy of the “worst attack on Catalan institutions since the dictator General Franco ordered the end of our autonomy”.

“What we decide through voting is to be wiped out by the government in their offices,” Mr Puigdemont claimed on Saturday.

Spain has been engulfed in its biggest political crisis in decades which exploded after the Civil Guard, Spain’s semi-militarised central police force, were ordered in to stop people voting in the referendum for independence on 1 October. The police were widely condemned for their heavy-handed tactics which culminated in them beating people as they arrived at polling stations and fire rubber bullets into the crowd.

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