Esteban Ibarra, president of the Movement against Intolerance: “We cannot allow the Internet to encourage the ‘hunting’ of immigrants.” April 4, 2011Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
Yesterday he presented in Málaga “The Racist Spain,” his latest book, in which he pays homage to the victims of hate crime.
March 30, 2011
Esteban Ibarra knows how it feels to be a threatened man, and the Internet’s capacity to build campaigns centered on hating a person merely for the deed of defending ethnic, sexual, religious, or cultural diversity. Last year, he reported a Facebook group called “I think Esteban Ibarra should die too,” behind which were 80 neo-Nazis, and another one called “I hate Esteban Ibarra,” which had nearly 800 members.
-You maintain that the country is not racist, but that a racist Spain exists, what does that refer to?
-To this subsoil of groups stimulating racism and xenophobia, driving new forms of fascism based on intolerance to what is different, to immigrants, to people of another religion. It is a minority, fortunately. That is why I’m against the general definition of Spain as racist. It isn’t; what’s happening is that there are racist or xenophobic behaviors in our country. There is a racist Spain which I denounce in the book, and which is the reason I urge that our institutions take the necessary measures and impede the problem’s progression, such as has happened in other European countries.
-What measures do you demand?
-We must promote education about the value of tolerance; work to reform the Penal Code, to adjust it according to the instructions received from Europa; develop Public Prosecutors specializing in hate crimes and especially in confronting them in an online environment, because it is on the Internet that the majority of topics, prejudices, hate speech, and group articulations are produced.
-You maintain that there are at least 400 Spanish pages with racist content. On the Internet, impunity appears to prevail.
-There is a great deal of impunity and we could avoid it if there were specialized Public Prosecutors. The Internet challenge is serious. They commit many crimes and also racist crimes. But we cannot accept as a norm that on certain websites or certain social networks they incite “hunting” immigrants, homosexuals, or blacks. We cannot allow it.
-They really make announcements of this type?
-They create a climate favorable to aggression and “hunting.” Later, the younger members of these groups are the ones who go out to deliver beatings and wreak havoc. In Germany they recognize 24,000 incidents and hate crimes, and in Great Britain they recognize almost 60,000. We don’t know how many there are in Spain, but we estimate around 4,000. The subject is serious and has produced irreparable cases, with homicides I discuss in the book. Through the Internet, they create an atmosphere of hate and later organized groups of Skinheads and neo-Nazis go out to commit these outrages. The Internet is fundamental in creating an environment of intolerance.
-It appears that the crisis is also having the effect of bringing to light racist attitudes that in times of prosperity stay hidden.
-The economic crisis is the big moment for racists, for that, in the face of any discriminatory approach, we have to wave the flag of equal treatment. It is not a problem of first (the Spanish) and second (everyone else). Equal treatment is the principle that inspired the Treaty of the European Union. We cannot renounce it because that would be to open the doors to a society where some people are slaves to others.
-Are you worried about populist speeches in the face of the elections?
-There is a possibility of infection. We have seen it in Cataluña. There are right-wing extremist parties like Plataforma Per Cataluña who have grown from 5,000 to 75,000 votes. They have managed to get democratic parties to accept their approaches. There exists the danger of xenophobic populism and the danger of the configuration of ultra-right formations.