The Catalan president in exile, Carles Puigdemont, warned this Wednesday in a speech to the European Parliament that fascism must remain outside the debate on the limits of freedom of expression. "Fascism is not an opinion, it is a crime," he said.
The MEP's reflection follows a dubious precedent which occurred yesterday in Catalonia: in the build-up to this Sunday's Catalan parliamentary elections, the candidate of the far-right Vox party, Ignacio Garriga, participated for the first time in a televised debate on Catalan public television, offering some apocalyptic views.
Puigdemont addressed the European chamber on the issue this afternoon in a debate on the question of whether to regulate social media. The Catalan politician admitted that the argument that these networks need to be placed under control has "become fashionable." But he pointed out that then the problem becomes who watches the watchmen. According to the MEP, censorship on social media is dangerous ground, "and it is not justified, except in exceptional cases", among which he included fascism.
The MEP for the Junts party called for caution when making rules to regulate social media. "Who can assure us that the rules that are created will not be used against minorities tomorrow? Social media has been an area for debate and free speech that has often questioned the official narrative, which the large economic and political powers have tried to impose. That is real progress for all our citizens. Free speech is a human right and we must defend it as such," he added.
Yesterday in the European Parliament, Puigdemont demanded the resignation of the EU's foreign policy high representative, Josep Borrell, on the grounds that he is unable to provide the strong voice in defending human rights that the EU needs. "Mr Borrell, please make a Borrellexit," he demanded.
The EU foreign policy chief was appearing in the European chamber after the incident of which he was a protagonist in Moscow last Friday, as part of an official trip in which he demanded the release of opposition leader Aleksei Navalni. In a joint press conference with Vladimir Putin's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, the Russian politician responded by confronting him with what he asserted to be comparable situations occuring in the EU, such as police excesses against protests and the existence of political prisoners and exiles in Spain.
Puigdemont told Borrell that he should have corrected Lavrov's errors of fact - which were, said the Catalan, that there are not three but rather nine political prisoners in Catalonia and that they are sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison. He blamed the EU for the "double standard that undermines its credibility". “The EU cannot go around the world recommending recipes that it does not apply to itself,” he warned.