Leaders and representatives of various far-right parties in Europe have used the Catalan crisis to attack the European Union in recent days. And once again, they have turned to social media to fire their latest round of ammunition at the European project.
Images of the riot police acting on October 1, when an illegal independence referendum was held in Catalonia, were used by Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom – an islamophobic group that holds 20 seats in the Dutch parliament – to describe the EU as a place where violence is exercised against the people.
Nigel Farage, the former UKIP leader, accused the EU of looking the other way in the face of police brutality. “900 people injured and not a dicky bird from Juncker,” he tweeted early on Tuesday. A little earlier he had retweeted an article written by himself and published in The Telegraph titled: “In Catalonia we have seen how the EU does ‘democracy.’ Why can’t Remainers see it too?”
Later on Tuesday, Farage once again pulled together the Catalan issue and Brexit: “If British police roughed up a Remain rally, EU would scream blue murder. Yet they don’t even want to talk about violence in Catalonia.”
A former colleague of his, the European deputy Janice Atkinson, who was kicked out of UKIP and is now an independent within the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) – the same group as Marine Le Pen – criticized what she describes as the EU’s silence: “EU silent on Catalan. I’m not and will be raising it in Parli[ament] this week, inc[luding] taste of things to come with EU army.”
The European Parliament held an hours-long debate on the Catalan crisis on Wednesday afternoon.
Heinz-Christian Strache, the leader of the far-right Austrian party FPÖ, also used the images of the clashes on Sunday to attack the EU: “Unbelievable images that leave one speechless. Where is the EU’s condemnation?” he tweeted on October 1.
His counterpart in Germany, the AfD party, retweeted a message from its representative in Hamburg, Jens Eckleben, who had elsewhere expressed ambivalence in his comments. In a Twitter message on Sunday, he said that “The Catalan police make their own citizens face the violence of the federal police.” The same day, he tweeted that “The central government of the EU in Spain at the Catalan referendum acts violently against democracy and the people.” Then he adds #5vor12 (“Five to twelve”), a hashtag used by German ultras urging for measures.
A fellow party member, the MEP Beatrix von Storch, tweeted on September 20 that “If you want to take democracy seriously, you have to take the opinion of the citizens of Catalonia seriously.”