Spain’s far-right Vox party under fire for veiled Twitter threat against editor
Reporters without Borders (RSF) has criticised the far-right Spanish party Vox for suggesting that the head of an editorial group that publishes a satirical magazine that frequently lampoons the party be held to account for its content on the street outside his office.
On Tuesday, Vox’s official Twitter account published the person’s name and photograph, and accused the magazine, El Jueves, of “spreading hate against millions of Spaniards on a daily basis”.
It added: “It’s possible that many of them may begin demanding that he takes responsibility for it when they see him leave his office.” The tweet referred to the city and street location of the office.
The party appeared to have been especially irked by El Jueves’s recent decision to depict Vox’s leadership in series of grotesque, Garbage Pail Kid-style caricatures.
The cartoons showed its leaders defecating, wearing underwear decorated with swastikas and oozing poison. One showed Vox co-founder José Antonio Ortega Lara, who was kidnapped by Eta terrorists and held in dungeon-like conditions for 18 months, blistering in the sun. A caption riffing on the fascist anthem Cara al Sol read: “It’s not healthy to be in the sun after so long in the dark.”
Vox’s actions were condemned by RSF, which works to protect freedom of expression. In a tweet, the group said Vox had crossed every line – “not just ethical ones, which it’s ignored for some time, but also legal ones” – by “singling out an editor and providing his work address so that ‘he takes responsibility’ when he steps on to the street”.
The satirical website El Mundo Today also offered its support and solidarity. “The ultimate aim of this threat is to menace the freedom of expression of editors, media owners, humorists, artists and, indeed, of any citizen,” it said in a statement.
“In a country such as Spain, which has suffered the scourge of terrorism and in which there are precedents for acts of violence against satirical publications, this move marks a red line that is neither legal nor ethically tolerable.”
The former Spanish health minister Salvador Illa offered his “most forceful condemnation” of Vox’s actions, while his fellow Socialist MP José Zaragoza tweeted: “They hate humour. They hate intelligence, they hate, they hate, they hate. That’s why Vox has singled out the editor of El Jueves – because humour is the the greatest enemy of hatred.”
The artists behind the cartoons said they were delighted that their work “was winding up the fascist cry-babies so much”.
Vox’s attack is not the first time El Jueves has found itself in trouble. In 2007, Spanish police were ordered to enter newsagents across the country to remove copies of El Jueves that featured a cartoon of the then heir to the throne having sex.
Ten years later, the magazine’s editor was summoned to court over a tongue-in-cheek article that suggested the riot police deployed to stop the illegal Catalan independence referendum had snorted the region’s entire supply of cocaine.
El Jueves replied to Vox with a tweet and a shrug, writing: “‘And now, to prove that we’re not the far right, we’re going to do exactly what other far-right groups have done before.’”