Day of protest as Catalans take to streets over police violence
Thousands of people took to the streets and blocked roads across Catalonia yesterday amid strikes to protest against the police violence used during the weekend's divisive independence referendum.
In Barcelona schools, businesses and shops were also shut as part of a strike backed by the Catalan government, which will only serve to increase tension with Spain's central government in Madrid.
The protests were largely peaceful, although some protesters forced shops and supermarkets that had decided to remain open to close, graffitiing 'strike-breakers' on the windows.
Spain's interior minister, however, accused the Catalan government of "inciting rebellion" by encouraging the protests as the country's worst political crisis in decades continues to show no sign of resolution.
"Day after day, the Catalan government is pushing the population to the abyss and inciting rebellion in the streets," Juan Ignacio Zoido said, adding that central government will take measures to "stop the acts of harassment".
Having previously remained silent on the issue, the European Parliament has confirmed it will hold a special debate today.
More than 50 barricades or protests had blocked roads across Spain's north-eastern region yesterday morning, including major toll roads and motorways which link the country to France, with Catalan president Carles Puigdemont calling on Twitter for a "democratic, civic, dignified protest". He added: "Don't let yourself be provoked. The world has seen it: we are peaceful people."
Protesters, tractors and tyres blocked the roads, while two people sat playing chess in the middle of one motorway. FC Barcelona was among those to join the strike, with the club saying in a statement it "seeks to bring together all those people who on 1 October, whether they voted or not, were left indignant by the serious events which took place during the day of the Catalan referendum on independence".
Spain's King Felipe VI said that Catalan authorities had deliberately bent the law with "irresponsible conduct" and that the Spanish state needed to ensure constitutional order and the rule of law in Catalonia.
Delivering a televised address to the nation, the king said the bid by authorities in the region to push ahead with independence had "undermined coexistence" in Catalonia.
"Today, Catalan society is fractured and confronted," Felipe said, referring to the political crisis as "very serious moments for our democratic life".