Spain Arrests Five Activists For Burning Picture Of King Felipe VI

felipe_prince_of_asturiaslarge-spain-flagWe have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in France (here and here and here and here and here and here) and England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws. We have seen comedians targeted with such court orders under this expanding and worrisome trend. (here and here). Even politicians have been charged under the ever-widening standard of criminalized speech. Now Spain has made clear that it is committed to the same trend of curtailing free speech. In a moment worthy of Franco, Spanish police arrested five Catalan independence activists for allegedly burning photos of King Felipe VI.  Much like arrests in Russia, destroying or disrespecting the image of the national leader is all that is required in Spain.

The accused are members of Catalan anti-capitalist party CUP and had already been summoned to appear before a judge at the National Audience, Spain’s top criminal court. They did not show up.  Police then charged them with insulting the monarchy and burning Spanish flags during a rally on Catalonia’s national day on September 11.

CUP is both in favor of independence and opposed to the monarchy.  Many people around the world oppose even symbolic monarchies and the burning of a picture of the King is clearly political speech.  It is not protected however in Spain.

Spain has had a long and troubled history with military governance and authoritarian abuses.  It views itself as past that dark period in its history but the arrests of these activists shows that there remains a fundamental lack of protections for core liberties in the country.  Free speech is the right that protects all other rights and remains the bulwark against authoritarianism.  Without such a right, Spain has an uncertain future.  It is following the mistaken path laid out by England, France and Germany in the criminalization of speech.

34 thoughts on “Spain Arrests Five Activists For Burning Picture Of King Felipe VI”

  1. Send an email to the Spanish embassy and let the ambassador know what you think of this. The email address is:

    I just did my civic duty and communicated my own thoughts via that medium.

    So much for taking my kids to Navarre to see where one branch of their ancestors lived before they had to flee after running into problems with the inquisition. I may be a world traveler, but Spain is now off of my list of places to take my kids. Spain won’t be getting any tourist moola from me; I’m not going to risk an accidental arrest in a foreign country.

    1. I agree with Andrea. I have a list of bad places. I have traveled in various parts of the world. In the 1980s there were places one could not go. The other side of the Iron Curtain for example. I went to Egypt and India and many places. But now some of those places are iffy. Spain sounds bad. This year it will be a boat trip on my sailboat from NC to Bermuda.

      1. Enjoy Bermuda, and tell ’em all they are backward for having a queen. Then explain how presidents are selected in the US despite losing the popular vote.

    1. Because they seem to like them. Especially the publishing industry. They sell alot of tabloids with royals on them over there. There’s still a lot of royal blood floating around out there. We should hire a family line. Pay them a lot of money to smug. My son just found out his mother’s bloodline goes back to Philip the Arab. He’ll take the job. He can put his engineering career on hold for big cash while not contributing anything to society. Except for tabloid fodder. Guess that’s something.

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