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On the absurd punishment meted out to alleged flag-tugger Francesc Argemí.


Francesc Argemí (Franki to his friends) is a 28 year old man from Terrassa who, back in 2002, apparently tried to tug a Spanish flag off the balcony of that city's city council. Last week, he was sentenced to two years and seven months of hard porridge for insulting Spain and disturbing the peace. This kind of nationalistic overkill – inconceivable though it is in all other countries excepting China, Turkey, Russia and little Serbia - is beginning not to be news anymore. For twenty odd years, young Catalans have been banged up at increasingly frequent intervals for casting aspersions on symbols of Spanish nationhood, for which those in power apparently wish to enforce a quasi-religious reverence. In 1988, for example, the 18-year-old independentist Núria Cadenas, from Barcelona, was put away for five years on trumped-up terrorist charges. In 2004, the Lloret de Mar home of 14-year-old linguistic militant Čric Bertran was raided by 20 heavily-armed Civil Guards who promptly accused him, too, of terrorism and carted him off to Madrid, unaware that the Army of the Phoenix which he claimed to lead was a fictional creation by J.K. Rowling. In 2007, 30-year-old Jaume Roura from Banyoles was also given a one-way ticket to the Spanish capital for burning a photograph of the Spanish King. Franki Argemí, then, is simply the latest in a long line of groundlessly fingered Catalan activists. I mention all this not just to pass the time, but for the benefit of the many consulates in Barcelona which, I have been reliably informed, glean their Catalan news from this very paper. Perhaps they might feel the need to inform their respective governments about how freedom of expression – insisted upon by Article 11 of the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights – is being respected in Catalonia, today?

- Textos i contingut: Matthew Tree - Disseny i programació: Nac -