The Jewish community in the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia has taken action over anti-Semitic messages posted on social networking sites after Israeli basketball team Maccabi Tel Aviv beat Real Madrid to win the Euroleague title on Sunday.
After the game in Tel Aviv was over, nearly 18,000 offensive messages appeared on Twitter, according to Jewish associations, which have announced they are planning to file a complaint with the state attorney on Tuesday. According to sources from the Jewish community, the complaint will include tweets from five users of the micro-blogging site – along with their full names – which, the complainants will argue, constitute incitement of hatred against Jews.
“We have identified five people,” explained the president of Bet Shalom, Jai Anguita. “The majority of the remainder of the messages were anonymous.”
Also filing the complaint will be the Israelite Community of Barcelona; the Jewish Atid Community of Catalonia; the Catalan Association of Friends of Israel; and the Catalan Association Against Anti-Semitism, among others.
“I am a firm defender of freedom of expression, but there must be a limit,” said Anguita. “We could say that these comments come from the high spirits after a [sporting] defeat, that they are almost jokes… But history has shown us where these jokes can lead.”
The complaint is explicitly aimed at the five aforementioned Twitter users, all of whom were easily identified. It also alludes to the nearly 18,000 messages that have been posted on the social networking site in Spain since the match finished on Sunday. The Jewish community was able to find a large number of them through the hashtag “putos judíos,” (fucking Jews), which was employed in the offensive Twitter messages.
I am a firm defender of freedom of expression, but there must be a limit”
The complaint will be filed with the Barcelona state attorney specializing in hate crimes and discrimination, Miguel Ángel Aguilar, who will have to decide if the case should be investigated. “We know that under the current law this will not be easy,” said Anguita. “But there are comments that are genuinely too much; some of them talk about sending Jews to a gas chamber. We cannot allow for this to snowball, we need to stop the sensation that incitement to hatred is permitted.”
The president of Bet Shalom was keen to distance the actions of the Jewish community from the controversy created – also on Twitter – by offensive messages posted after the fatal shooting last Monday of the head of the Provincial Council of León, Isabel Carrasco. “This was an issue for us before that,” explained Anguita. “Twitter cannot protect criminals. We are seeing a discourse of hate returning within society.”
Correction: Because of a error, the first version of this story included an image of a message by Twitter user @fersoto5 that was unconnected to this controversy.