Elsa Atardi addresses the Junts Per Catalunya’s campaign closing rally ahead of regional elections in Barceliona, Spain, December 19, 2017. (Reuters)
A Catalan government official who purportedly compared the removal of pro-secession symbols from public buildings in Spain to Holocaust diarist Anne Frank was met with sharp criticism by many who called it “shameful.”
Elsa Artadi, the spokesperson for the government in Catalonia, sparked widespread criticism earlier this week when she posted on Monday a photo of Frank alongside a page from her famous diary.
“‘We aren’t allowed to have our own opinion. People want us to keep our mouth shut, but this doesn’t stop you having your own opinion. Everyone should be allowed to say what they think.’ A very appropriate quote from Anne Frank for today, which marks the 69th anniversary of her death in Bergen-Belsen,” Artadi wrote in the tweet, which also included a yellow ribbon in solidarity with Catalan separatists on trial for rebellion.
Earlier this week, Spain’s electoral commission ordered the yellow ribbons and separatists “estelada” flags removed from official buildings, claiming they are partisan symbols that should not be used by regional authorities ahead of the general and European elections in April and May.
The tweet – which had a factual error as Frank died 74 years ago in February or March 1945 – was quickly panned, including from Israeli diplomats and former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
“Nothing, nothing can be compared with the Holocaust to promote a political cause. This comparison is shameful!” responded Assaf Moran, the deputy chief of mission at the Israeli embassy in Madrid.
Valls, who is running for the mayor in Barcelona in May’s elections, called Artadi’s tweet a “disgrace.”
“A disgrace and a lack of historical knowledge. Spain is a democracy. How can it be compared to the Holocaust? Enough of all this nonsense!”
Another Twitter user wrote: “What you have said can only be described as an aberration and an insult to the victims of Nazism. How dare you try to compare yourself with millions of exterminated people? Unheard.”
Catalan separatists declared independence from Spain unilaterally in Oct. 2017 but received no international recognition.
The 12 Catalan separatists are charged with sedition and other alleged crimes. Their trial is expected to last months.
Artadi has not commented nor apologized for the tweet, however, did follow up with a second message about freedom and democracy, while commenting on the decision by the electoral commission.
“Without freedom of expression there is no democracy and that without democracy there is no freedom of expression. I don’t know which of the two things annoys me more.”