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Catalan official’s tweet quoting Anne Frank is met with sharp rebuke

An Israeli diplomat and a former French prime minister are among those who have criticized the comparison between the Holocaust and the situation in Catalonia

Elsa Artadi, the Catalan government spokesperson.
Elsa Artadi, the Catalan government spokesperson. EL PAÍS

A tweet by a Catalan government official who paraphrased Anne Frank to describe the situation in Catalonia has received widespread criticism, including from Israeli diplomats and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

“Nothing, nothing can be compared with the Holocaust to promote a political cause. This comparison is shameful!” responded Assaf Moran, the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Madrid, to a tweet posted by Elsa Artadi, the Catalan regional government spokesperson.

Manuel Valls, who is currently running for mayor of Barcelona, described the tweet as “shameful and lacking historical culture. Spain is a democracy. How can you compare it with the Holocaust? Enough with the nonsense!”

In her Monday tweet, Artadi wrote: “‘We aren’t allowed to have our own opinion. People want us to keep our mouth shut, but this doesn’t stop you having your own opinion. Everyone should be allowed to say what they think.’ A sentence by Anne Frank for today, which marks the 69th anniversary of her death in Bergen-Belsen.” The message contains a factual mistake – Anne Frank died 74 years ago, not 69.

Next to the text is a yellow ribbon, a symbol of solidarity with the Catalan separatist leaders who are in prison on rebellion charges over the unilateral independence bid of October 2017. The trial is currently underway at the Supreme Court in Madrid.

The tweet was posted after election officials in Spain told the Catalan government to take down pro-independence symbols from public buildings to ensure the political neutrality of government institutions during the upcoming campaign race for the general election of April 28.

Josep Bou, the candidate for the conservative Popular Party (PP) in Barcelona, wrote the following reply: “I think that what Elsa Artadi wrote is in bad taste, and comparing the yellow ribbons with the tragedy of Anne Frank is morally unacceptable. In fact, if anyone suffers from Lazi harassment, that’s the constitutionalists.”

Bou’s play on words between Nazi and Lazi (meaning the lazos, or ribbons) can also be viewed as a trivialization of historical events.

In July 2018, Artadi said that “trivializing Apartheid or Nazism has no place in the Catalan political debate, because it shows a lack of respect for the victims of Nazism and Apartheid.”

English version by Susana Urra.

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