The long-standing and bitter feud over language teaching in Catalonia escalated after a family in the Spanish region was harassed and abused for seeking to ensure that a quarter of classes in the school attended by their five-year-old son be taught in Spanish. .
The family’s actions have provoked an angry reaction from some Catalan nationalists who see their position as an attack on the language and culture of the region.
According to media reports, the family has become the subject of a WhatsApp group that suggested identifying the child and his parents. One person tweeted that their house should be stoned, while another asked that the little boy be avoided, adding: “Other children should leave their class when classes are taught in Spanish.” If we don’t react, they will kill our tongue.
At the end of last week, Catalonia’s high court ordered the regional education ministry and the school director in the town of Canet de Mar to take action to protect the boy and his identity.
During a visit to the school last Thursday, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, who holds the post of Minister of Education in the independence regional government, said he condemned “All kinds of threats or violence”.
But he criticized the decision of the Catalan High Court to order that 25% of classes be taught in Spanish as “an intolerable attack”, adding: “The Catalan school model is a model of success, which guarantees us social cohesion, equity and equal opportunities.
Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the interior minister of the coalition government led by the Spanish socialists, warned that “any threat to coexistence” would be investigated.
Salvador Illa, a former central government minister who now heads the Catalan Socialist Party, also criticized attacks on the family and said schools must obey court decisions.
“It doesn’t work against Catalan; it is about complying with decisions, and the [regional education system] still guarantees Catalan as an educational center of gravity in Catalonia, ”Illa said on Thursday.
The Spanish right grabbed the episode as evidence of anti-Spanish discrimination in Catalonia, where the separatist government attempted unilateral secession in 2017.
Pablo Casado, the leader of the Right People’s Party – which leads national polls but has only three deputies out of the 135 seats in the Catalan parliament – said: “Today in Spain, we are experiencing a terrible case of linguistic segregation. involving five-year-old boy.
Casado said the Catalan government practiced “linguistic apartheid” and accused the Socialist-led minority government of “complicit silence” because it relies on the support of some Catalan nationalists in Congress.
The far-right Vox party, whose rise was in part fueled by the Catalan independence crisis, called a demonstration in front of the regional parliament on Tuesday evening. He said he would no longer allow “twisted separatism to continue assaulting Canet’s little boy and his family with impunity.”
Language issues have also featured in central government efforts to push through next year’s budget through parliament. Last month, Pedro Sánchez’s administration attempted to appease the Catalan Republican left – which heads the regional government – by proposing that at least 6% of the content of streaming platforms be in the co-official languages of Spain: Catalan, Galician or Basque.