Attacks on freedom of religion have increased by 37 percent in Spain compared to 2019, according to the Observatory for Religious Freedom and Conscience (OLRC) in its latest report for the year 2020. This growth took place in spite of the incredibly restrictive lockdown that was imposed in Spain, which forbade people from leaving their homes and traveling across the country.
Owing to a complaint filed by conservative party Vox to the Spanish Constitutional Tribunal, the lockdown was deemed an unconstitutional and illegal action taken by the government. However, many of those who practice their faith in Spain, particularly Catholics, suffered during the lockdowns.
“Freedom of religion is a basic right. It seems, however, that some politicians have used the pandemic to restrict it,” head of the OLRC Maria Garcia commented on the report.
Poland’s Observatory reported that Christians are the group that is attacked the most in Spain — 174 cases in 2020 (66 percent of all attacks) of which 158 were against Catholics, six against Evangelicals and ten against Christians of other faith. There were also 12 attacks against Muslims and six against Jews. The report also determined that 48 attacks concerned all faiths, as every single one of them was affected by aggressive secularist measures seeking to eliminate religion from the public sphere.
Attacks were defined as actual physical attacks on people, places of worship, and cases of mockery, but also included the marginalization of the religion in the public sphere, including through government policy.
When it comes to particular regions in Spain, the most cases of violence against Christians took place in Catalonia (35 cases), followed by Madrid (26) and Andalusia (23). It is worth pointing out that Catalonia is the region of Spain with the largest Muslim diaspora.
The report found that the Spanish government is contributing to the attacks on religious freedom, which has been a long-standing criticism regarding the current political direction taken by the socialist-communist Spanish government.
The head of the OLRC, Maria Garcia, stressed that the parties which rule Spain are the ones which provoke the most attacks. The Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party (PSOE) provoked 43 such cases, Podemos 23, and Izquierda Unida 17.
“Radical secularism which has become those parties’ program has led to constant attacks on religious freedom in plenary meeting halls and care homes. By using the non-denominational character of the state written into the constitution, there is an attempt to marginalize religion in public space,” he said.
Although the EU is tasked with protecting against violations of basic human rights, in Spain, the assault on freedom of belief and faith has received little notice from Brussels, according to the OLRC.