Spanish Government Reproached for Lack of Response to Jihadist Attack on Churches That Left One Dead

In the course of the attack, sacristan Diego Valencia was murdered and Father Antonio Rodríguez, a Salesian priest, was wounded.

Minister of the Interior of Spain Fernando Grande-Marlaska.
Minister of the Interior of Spain Fernando Grande-Marlaska. (photo: Spain Ministry of the Interior)

The Observatory for Religious and Conscience Freedom (OLRC) has reproached the Spanish government for its “silence and inaction” in the face of a jihadist attack perpetrated last month in Algeciras, a town on the southern end of the Iberian peninsula near the Strait of Gibraltar.

The president of the OLRC, María García, sent a letter to the Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, reproaching the lack of reaction to the direct attack on Catholics.

García considers the “the silence and inaction” of the executive branch of government to be inexplicable in this case in which an individual of Moroccan origin, Yassin Kanjaa, attacked several churches in Algeciras in the Diocese of Cádiz and Ceuta.

In the course of the attack, sacristan Diego Valencia was murdered and Father Antonio Rodríguez, a Salesian priest, was wounded.

At the time of the attack, the bishop of Cádiz-Ceuta, Rafael Zornoza, was close by in Algeciras making a pastoral visit but was not in any immediate danger.

In the letter, to which ACI Prensa had first access, García points out that “there is no doubt” that the terrorist’s objective was directed at “the Catholic faithful and, in particular, priests.”

The ORLC consequently questioned why the government “hasn’t convened the Monitoring Commission of the Action Plan against Hate Crimes” for the purpose of reporting on the attack and “the actions that are taken to prevent criminal acts like this.”

The OLRC is making its inquiry in its capacity as an advisory body to the Commission, which is under the Ministry of the Interior.


‘Disparate’ Assessment of Hate Crimes

The letter also reproaches the head of the Ministry of the Interior for his fickle criteria: “It is surprising that the government of which you are a part values so differently ‘potential’ cases of hate crimes.”

For example, the OLRC notes that in September 2021 the Monitoring Commission was urgently convened “due to an alleged homophobic attack” that occurred in Madrid.

This case turned out to be a false report. A few hours later, the alleged victim acknowledged that he lied when he claimed that eight masked men assaulted him.

In comparison, the OLRC said the attacks against Christians perpetrated in Algeciras “barely deserved a quick visit from you to this town, in addition to a Twitter message from the president of the government.”

Before being appointed minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska was a judge on the National Court. His move into politics was preceded by LGBT activism.

In 2006, he became the first judge of any relevance to openly express his sexual orientation in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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