Spanish prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation to determine whether the secretary general of Vox, a fast-rising Spanish populist party, is guilty of hate speech for warning of an “Islamist invasion.”
The criminal inquiry, based on a complaint from a Muslim activist group, appears aimed at silencing critical discussion of Islam ahead of national elections on April 28. More broadly, however, the case poses a huge threat to free speech in Spain.
Prosecutors in Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, said that they were investigating Javier Ortega Smith, the deputy leader of Vox, for an alleged hate crime after they received a complaint from a political Muslim group calling itself “Muslims Against Islamophobia” (Musulmanes Contra la Islamofobia).
At a rally in Valencia on September 16, 2018, Ortega Smith declared that Europe’s “common enemy” is the “Islamist invasion”:
“Spain is facing threats from internal and external enemies. The internal enemies are perfectly identifiable: the [Catalan] separatists, the friends of [Basque] terrorists, those who want to tear our nation apart….
“The external enemies want to tell us how to run our country…. Angela Merkel and her fellow travelers, George Soros, the immigration mafias, believe that they can tell us who can and cannot enter our country. They demand that our boats pluck so-called castaways out of the sea, transfer them to our ports and shower them with money. Who do they think we are? We say enough is enough….
“We will unite our voice with those of millions of Europeans who also are standing up. Those voices are saying, long live Germany, long live Switzerland, long live France, long live Great Britain. These Europeans understand the need to respect national sovereignty and national identity. They have no intention of being diluted into the magma of European multiculturalism.
“Together we will be stronger against the common enemy that has a very clear name. I will not stop saying it. Our common enemy, the enemy of Europe, the enemy of freedom, the enemy of progress, the enemy of democracy, the enemy of the family, the enemy of life, the enemy of the future is called the Islamist invasion.
“What is at stake is what we understand or know as civilization. It is under serious threat. We are not alone. More and more Europeans are standing up because they are suffering in their cities, on their streets and in their neighborhoods due to the application of Sharia law. They are not willing to have their cathedrals torn down and forcibly replaced with mosques.
“They are not willing to have their women cover their faces with a black cloth and be forced to walk ten steps behind — to be treated worse than camels. They are not willing to extinguish what we understand as civilization and a respect for rights and freedom.”
Since Vox’s inception, party leaders have warned against creeping Islamization. In December 2014, for example, Vox President Santiago Abascal criticized the Spanish government’s decision to approve a law that promotes Islam in Spanish public schools. In an essay entitled, “Trojan Horse,” Abascal wrote that the government was conceding a “dangerous privilege” to Islam:
“The Spanish state is allowing the Muslim community to preach in schools and propose Mohammed as a role model…. This law, according to experts, has been drafted in its entirety by the heads of the Muslim community in Spain, with little review by the competent ministry. The law surprises by its markedly confessional character in each of its articles, and it develops a proselytizing vocation, covering with tolerance the most controversial aspects of a strict theocratic system. The controversial preaching of the imams in our mosques, often bordering on the criminal, is well known. And we all know about the lack of freedom, if not direct persecution, suffered by women and Christians in Islamic countries, while here they enjoy the generosity characteristic of freedom, democracy and reciprocity, of course, all of which they systematically deny….
“We already know that a part of the Western world is determined to commit suicide and many governments know that, to achieve this, they must destroy their own foundations. The beautiful multiculturalism of the progressive myth — reflected in nonsense such as the Alliance of Civilizations, or false notions of peaceful coexistence of the ‘Three Cultures’ in al-Andalus — is fed above all by the contempt for one’s own culture. The best ally of intolerance is the relativism of those who have no principles.
“Today we have to face two fundamentalisms that, as we are seeing, are allies: Islamism and radical secularism. Every day they seem less opposed to each other and more complementary.”
“It is somewhat curious that the Islamic Commission of Spain accuses me of trying to ‘create permanent confusion’ by identifying the political dimension of Islam with the religious dimension, when, precisely, the mixture of the religious and the political is so obviously constitutive of the Muslim world. It is worth remembering in this regard that, while our Christian civilization was built precisely on the separation of the civil and religious, you cannot say the same about yours….
“Of course, not all who profess Islam share the most extreme expressions of Islamist intolerance or support terrorism; but it is also true that the failure of multiculturalism is clearly visible throughout Europe. I reiterate that there are better and worse civilizations, a view that, I’m sure, you share. As I said, putting them all on the same level is just paving the way to barbarism.
“Finally: you refer the ‘myth’ of the invasion (I suppose that refers to the year 711), historical evidence that you seem to question in line with the darkest historical revisionism. We Spaniards, however, know very well that such a ‘myth’ is an unquestionable historical reality, for which we must thank the formation of a deep sense of national identity forged during the eight centuries of struggle for the recovery of the fatherland of our ancestors.”