For the xenophobic Plataforma per Catalunya (PxC), Badalona is a really interesting place. The extremist party has infiltrated in the districts, where the immigrant population is greater, to have some more votes. They are trying to exploit the neighbourhood’s dissatisfaction with the problems that are endemic there, giving speeches in which they attack foreigners and Islam.
Although it’s not very visible yet, the party leadered by ex-leader of Fuerza Nueva (NOTE: Franco’s nostalgic guys) Josep Anglada has proposed polemic measures such as abrogating subsidies for immigrants, retiring any scholarships for immigrants’ sons and that Moroccan and Pakistani consulates pay for the expenses that, according to PxC, are costing to the city people from those nationalities in Badalona. The Platform opened in the city, Barcelona and L’Hospitalet on March. The first goal of this party is to take part in the Autonomic Community’s elections on 2010 and then in the local elections on 2011.
Anyway, the party is watching a good climate for their radical message in Badalona’s outskirts. “Immigration is suffered in those areas and those places are so devastated that we can have losts of votes“, says the delegate of PxC in Badalona, Carles Francisoud. The most important places where they are working are Sant Roc, Artigues, La Salut and Llefià, outskirts where the 34,000 foreigners that live there make up to 20% or 30% of the population.
“If there is a problem here between the Pakistanis and the gypsy community, we are going to have a war because the illegals have entered here massively“, says Francisoud, who was sentenced in the mid-80s for several terrorist attacks made by ultra-far-right organization Milicia Catalana. The Platform, who has now 17 councilmen in cities like Vic, Manlleu or Manresa, is not hiding that they want to take the votes that were won by PP (center-right) in 2007 local elections, in which PP introduced a very hard-line discourse against illegals.
The City’s Fellowship’s Councilman, the Convergencia i Unió (Catalan Nationalists – Conservatives) Josep Pera, considers the PP’s politians are responsible of this party having arrived there: “They have attracted them with their campaigns, who are giving a bad name to Badalona“. On the other hand, Badalona PP’s President, Xavier García Albiol, opines that PxC are no more than a “residual and folk group” and doesn’t think they are going to have a very great impact on the local elections, where the PP is seeing a continued growth: “We know that our only rival here is the Catalonian Socialist Party, who has been governing this town for the last 30 years, and that Badalona’s first problem is the degradation of some districts after the uncontrolled immigration“.
The Platform is planning to organize a protest next September or October, against the next opening of a Muslim prayer room in the Artigues’ district. They are announcing it as “the more important anti-mosque demonstration held in Catalonia” and they are pretending to have more than 1,000 people, a number they have already reached in the demonstration against other prayer room in Premià de Mar held on 2002, in which some riots and security problems took place. The party’s supporters and the board of directors will attend it. This possible demonstration, which has maintained meetings with the entity which collected some signatures against a prayer room against which PP was also positioned, has not been well-received in the area. The President of the Neighbours’ Association Ángel Vendrell explained “It’s going to benefit no one. They can heat up the suspicions, which were already nearly forgotten“.
Around 1,800 Muslims live in Artigues. They pray in the Camarón de San Roc Square. Although the second prayer room in Badalon will open soon, the hundreds of believers will continue to prostate themselves in the street on the sacred day for Islam to prevent the overpopulation in the ground floor from Santiago St., which is waiting for the license that will permit the conditioning of the rooms, with a total capacity of 50 people. According to the Major’s office, this Ramadan (which begins next Aug 22nd) will be used. The official opening with all the licenses will be held in October.
Artigues’ Pakistani community, who had already protested against PP’s campaign opposed to this same prayer room, has denied that this will deteriorate the relations within the neighbourhood. Their speaker, Saidullah Khan, said “racism isn’t suddently born, they are not going to find any answer to their demonstrations“. Umair Dar, a young social worker who is fighting the effects that the economic crisis has in his fellow countrymen, told us that he never has seen any PxC’s supporters in the area: “They are possessed by Islamophobia. Before building a war camp, they should come here and we’ll find a solution“.
Francisoud warns that the party he is representing, will prevent that “more immigrants get registered in the city and more mosques are built”. He adds that, if more mosques are to be built, they “should be in industrial estates”. “They aren’t asking that for schools or churches. Why? This is barbarity”, protests Muhammad Nawaz, a member of the Camí de la Pau (Path of Peace -Cat-), the Islamic organization settled in Barcelona’s Raval and owner of the new prayer room in Badalona.
Their anti-immigration rethoric that is supported by PxC since it was born in 2002 has driven the party to form alliances with other European far-right parties, such as French National Front, Italian North League or German Neo-Nazi NDP. Till this day, the more known event of this party has been Anglada’s participation in a neighbours’ one against insecurity and the lack of social benefits in the La Salut’s district, an event in which Albiol also took part.
In the end of the demonstration, in which some quarrel took place between a PP supporter and the members of PxC, Anglada stated to this newspaper that he felt as a foreigner himself, when he took a walk by Badalona and added that he wants his party to obtain between “two and four town councillors” in the local elections.