Spanish King joins defiant Barcelona anti-terror march

Published 27.08.2017 21:41
Updated 27.08.2017 21:42

Tens of thousands of people marched through the heart of Barcelona on Saturday in a defiant display of unity against terrorism, joined by Spain's King Felipe VI, who nonetheless was the target of jeers by Catalan separatists.

The municipal police said in a Twitter post that half a million people participated in the march to commemorate last week's deadly vehicle rampage.

People who tended the victims of the attack were given pride of place at the front of the procession behind a large white- and-black banner that read "No tinc por." [Catalan for "I'm not afraid"]

They included uniformed police officers, doctors in their white coats, firefighters wearing their helmets, residents and shop owners who rushed to help after a van struck people on the Las Ramblas boulevard, as well as taxi drivers who transported people for free.

"There were very difficult moments," said Montse Rovira, the city hall's head of social emergencies, who helped people who were lost or who could not find their loved ones.

Marchers carried red, yellow and white flowers, the colors of Barcelona, as they made their way along the city's main boulevard, the Paseo de Gracia.

Many also waved the red-and-yellow Catalan flag, marked with a white star, a reminder of the simmering tensions between Spain's central government and the regional separatist government of Catalonia.

The Mediterranean city has been in mourning after a driver ploughed into crowds on Las Ramblas on August 17, followed hours later by a car attack in the seaside resort town of Cambrils.

Sixteen were killed in the carnage.

King Felipe VI marched alongside Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and representatives of all of Spain's major political parties behind the first ranks.

He is the first Spanish sovereign to take part in a demonstration since the monarchy was re-established in 1975 after the death of General Francisco Franco.

In a speech delivered between sobs at the rally in Ripoll and broadcast by Catalan television, Hafida Oukabir, the sister of one of the attackers who was shot dead by police, urged people to "reject the Islamist message", calling it "a perverse ideology that has no reason or explanation."

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