Catalan leader calls for end of direct rule by Madrid

Catalan leader calls for end of direct rule by Madrid

New Catalan leader Quim Torra yesterday called for an end to direct rule over the Catalan regional government by Madrid in a joint news conference held in Berlin with former regional leader Carles Puigdemont. The first aim of the newly formed Catalan government would be to seek dialogue with Madrid, he said. Torra said he had travelled to Berlin to pay homage to former leader Puigdemont whom he called Catalonia's legitimate president.

Torra, a newcomer to politics who has campaigned fiercely for Catalonia's independence, was appointed regional president Monday vowing to keep fighting for a break from Spain.

A Catalan anti-racism group yesterday slammed past comments made by freshly-elected, fiercely separatist regional president Quim Torra and deemed offensive to Spaniards, as controversy grows over the appointment of a man critics have accused of "xenophobia."

"We reject the discourse that Mr Torra has used repeatedly," SOS Racisme Catalunya, an independent association, said in a statement, as reported by AFP. "A dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable discourse, based in prejudices," the body said, adding it would denounce any potential "racist stances."

The allegations could harm the Catalan separatist movement which has always strived to differentiate itself from radical, xenophobic nationalisms that have arisen elsewhere in Europe.

In a series of articles published online, for instance, Torra said it wasn't "natural" to speak Spanish in Catalonia. He also described Spain as "a country that exports misery" and slammed those who don't defend the Catalan language and culture as "scavengers, vipers and hyenas."

Compiled from wires

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