MADRID May 21 The Spanish government is
considering cracking down on hate speech on social networks
after thousands of anti-Semitic comments on Twitter following an
Israel-Spain basketball game on Sunday.
Jewish groups filed a legal complaint on Tuesday calling for
official action against tweeters who made gas chamber and
Holocaust comments after Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball team
defeated Spain's Real Madrid in the Euro League final.
State prosecutors are looking into the complaint against
users of an obscene Twitter tag, which the Jewish groups say
became a trending topic on Twitter in Spain after over 4,000
direct messages on the microblogging network, and thousands more
The anti-Semitic posts are embarrassing for a country which
recently approved a law allowing descendents of Sephardic Jews
expelled from the country in 1492 to seek Spanish nationality.
On Sunday, the village of Castrillo Matajudios in northern
Spain will on whether to change its name - which means Kill the
Jews Fort - and purge a vestige of anti-semitism stemming from
the the days of the Inquisition.
Justice and interior ministry officials met with a senior
state prosecutor on Monday to discuss how Spanish law can cope
with defamatory, racist or discriminatory speech on social
networks, a source at the justice ministry said.
"It's not about writing new laws. Within Spanish law this
behaviour is already penalised. It's to evaluate Twitter as a
new variable within this law," said another source close to the
Both government sources spoke on condition they not be
named, citing ministry rules.
Spain is grappling with a spate of incendiary tweeting,
especially following the murder of Isabel Carrasco, a leader of
the conservative People's Party (PP) and president of the county
council of Leon in northern Spain.
Four people have been charged with apologia - sympathising
with a criminal act - after sending tweets that police say
celebrated Carrasco's death. She was shot dead May 12 while
walking through the city of Leon.
Under Spanish law, successful prosecutions could carry
prison sentences of up to two years.
They have also provoked debate on how far the law should be
permitted to censor comments made on social networks after
Interior Minister Jose Fernandez Diaz said they must purge
undesirables from social media.
"There are comments on the internet which can be considered
unfortunate, a symptom of bad manners or in bad taste, but that
doesn't mean they should be met with a legal response," said
Joaquim Bosch, spokesman for Judges for Democracy, an
association of judges and magistrates.
"We need to differentiate between stupid comments where
people are letting off steam and real threats."
In April, 17 people were arrested for comments on social
media which either glorified illegal groups such as the violent
Basque separatist group ETA or Jihadists, or insulted their
A source from Spain's Civil Guard - the national gendarmerie
force - said those arrests were part of a police effort called
Operation Spider but was unable to say whether charges had been
(Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Angus MacSwan,)