‘I am not afraid,’ crowd shouts at memorial for Spain victims
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‘I am not afraid,’ crowd shouts at memorial for Spain victims

Spanish and Catalan flags eschewed in rare display of unity for moment of silence in Barcelona

People wait before a minute of silence for the victims of the Barcelona attack at Plaza de Catalunya on August 18, 2017. (AFP/Javier Soriano)
People wait before a minute of silence for the victims of the Barcelona attack at Plaza de Catalunya on August 18, 2017. (AFP/Javier Soriano)

A crowd in Barcelona’s main square defiantly shouted “not afraid” Friday following a minute’s silence attended by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and King Felipe VI, held for the victims of two vehicle attacks.

Standing silent in the Plaza de Catalunya, Rajoy joined the king and Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Catalonia region where Barcelona is located, in mourning the victims of attacks that left 14 dead and more than 100 injured.

At loggerheads as the separatist Catalan government attempts to break away from Spain, Rajoy and Puigdemont put their differences aside as they held the minute of silence in the square near the scene of the Barcelona attack.

Just after, crowds at the square broke out in loud applause, shouting, “I am not afraid.”

When a few people raised Spanish and Catalan flags before the minute of silence for the Barcelona attack victims, the crowd quickly rebuked them for trying to politicize the solemn event.

The crowd urged them to lower the flags, chanting “Fuera la bandera,” or “Get rid of the flags.”

People holding a Catalan flag gather for a minute of silence in memory of the terrorist attacks victims in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)
People holding a Catalan flag gather for a minute of silence in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack on the Las Ramblas Boulevard in Barcelona, Spain, on Friday, August 18, 2017. (AP/Manu Fernandez)

It was a rare moment when the question of whether the Catalonia region should become independent from Spain didn’t divide people. Polls show the region is split ahead of a planned referendum, which Spain’s central government considers would be illegal to hold, on October 1.

Anna Esquerdo, a lifelong Barcelona resident who works in a uniform apparel store, said “we’re here for the victims and to protest what happened. This is not about anyone’s politics.”

Spain is reeling from a double attack on Thursday and Friday that saw drivers in Barcelona and another seaside town, Cambrils, plough into pedestrians.

Police said they killed five “suspected terrorists” during the night and three others were arrested, although the driver of the van in Barcelona remains at large.

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