Thursday, September 18, 2008
Spain has been a notoriously racially intolerant country for centuries. From the expulsion of the Moors from Central Iberia in 1212 to the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, there are many instances of Spanish racism and general intolerance of different cultures. In the modern era, it would appear their viewpoint hasn't changed much.
Earlier today I read an article about rising Anti-Jewish and Anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe. Unsurprisingly, "positive views toward Jews outweighed negative ones in every European country surveyed but Spain." A whopping 46% of Spaniards held negative views toward Jews, compared to 36% of Polish and 34% of Russians.
I'm not surprised. Over the last few years, a few racial incidents have sprung up that give backbone to the statistics presented. Most recently, the Spanish Olympic basketball team was photographed before the Olympic Games in Beijing with their hands to their eyes, pulling the skin back in order to mimic the epicanthic fold that occurs widely in people of Central and Asian descent. Understandably, the Chinese response was less than favorable. Even before this incident, racist action out of Spain has reached the forefront of world news. Time after time, Black soccer players in Spain have had monkey sounds directed at them, had bananas thrown in their directions, been victims of racially derogatory comments and more. Even the Euro 2008-winning Spanish national team coach, Luis Aragonés was caught on tape in 2005, calling the French-Guadaloupian Thierry Henry "that black s**t".
The extent that racism is accepted in Spain is evident in the punishment imposed upon Aragonés after his off-color remark. Initially, the Spanish federation refused to discipline "El Viejo" (The Old Man), but after being urged to do so by Spain's anti-violence commission, decided to fine him a paltry 3000 Euros. This sum, the equivalent of around a day's wages for Aragonés, is a laughable punishment for such a racially insensitive remark coming from such a high-profile person.
Unless attitudes towards racism in Spain change, I wouldn't be surprised to see the percentage of negative views towards minorities go up in the next poll. It hasn't changed much in 9 centuries, who's to say it will start now?