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EL PAIS INTERVIEW

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Pope warns against populism and ‘saviours’ like Hitler

Pope Francis warned on Saturday against populism, saying it could lead to the election of "saviours" like Hitler.

Pope warns against populism and 'saviours' like Hitler
Pope Francis gives his audience at the Vatican on January 18. Photo: Andreas Solaro/ AFP
In an hour-long interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais conducted as Donald Trump was being sworn in as US president, the pontiff also condemned the idea of using walls and barbed wire to keep out foreigners.
   
“Of course crises provoke fears and worries,” he said but added that for him “the example of populism in the European sense of the word is Germany in 1933”.
   
“Germany… was looking for a leader, someone who would give her back her identity and there was a little man named Adolf Hitler who said 'I can do it'.”    
 
“Hitler did not steal power,” the pope said. “He was elected by his people and then he destroyed his people.”
   
The Germans at that time also wanted to protect themselves with “walls and barbed wire so that others cannot take away their identity,” he said.
 
“The case of Germany is classic,” he said, adding that Hitler gave them a “deformed identity and we know what it produced.”
   
Pope Francis however underscored that it was too early to pass judgement on Trump.
   
“Let's see. Let's see what he does and then we will evaluate,” he said.

US ELECTION

Trump and Biden go head to head in Spain’s bizarre Christmas tradition

The winner of the US presidential race is still not clear but across the Atlantic in Spain another battle is being fought out between Trump and Biden.

Trump and Biden go head to head in Spain’s bizarre Christmas tradition
Photos: AFP

The pair are competing to appear on top of the best seller list of this year’s caganer figurines, a bizarre Christmas tradition in the Spanish region of Catalonia.

Known as “caganers” – which translates as “poopers” or “crappers” in English –   the clay figurines area popular nativity scene decoration in Catalonia, where a defecating figure perched behind Mary and Joseph is said to symbolize fertilization, as well as bringing luck and prosperity for the year ahead.

Visit any Catalan home at Christmas and you will find what appears to be an interloper hiding among the traditional figures around the crib in the nativity scene.

Joseph and Mary will be in pride of place around the manger gazing adoringly at baby Jesus in the nativity scene or Belén that is traditionally set up in many homes at Christmas.

The three Kings will likely be in attendance, along with a group of shepherds and a set of traditional farmyard animals.

But look closer and you will spy a figure squatting with pants down, bare bottom raised over a little brown pile of poo – glance up at the face and chances are it's a figure you recognise.

There is a growing trend to purchase a new figure each year – a trend that is proving profitable for a handful of artisans who produce the figures each year.

Modern crappers represent public figures of the moment, from politicians to sporting heroes. 

Cartoon characters, literary figures and film icons can all be found on the shelves of stalls selling caganers.

No-one is above the cheeky satire that sees celebrities bare their bottoms and perform a call of nature from Queen Elizabeth II to Pope Francis.

Not surprisingly, the Donald Trump figure has been a best-seller for the last few years. And this year he is joined by a new figure in the form of presidential challenger Joe Biden.

Versions have been designed of them both with and without facemasks and of course with their trousers pulled down and their bottoms bare.

In further reference to the coronavirus pandemic, another new figure has been especially created this year.

Fernando Simón, the epidemiologist who as Spain’s health emergency chief has led the daily press conferences reporting on the evolution of the virus in Spain is expected to be among the best-sellers in 2020.


Photos: caganer.com

Figures representing healthcare workers also appear in the caganer.com catalogue in recognition of the valuable role they have played this year. 

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