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CRIME

Spain backs move to probe child abuse in Catholic church

Spain's Parliament on Tuesday agreed to consider opening an inquiry into child sex abuse within the Roman Catholic church in a first in the once-deeply religious country.

Spain's Catholic church, which has only recognised 220 cases over the past 20 years, has never held a comprehensive investigation. Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFO
Spain's Catholic church, which has only recognised 220 cases over the past 20 years, has never held a comprehensive investigation. Photo: Oscar del Pozo/AFO

Until now, there has never been an official investigation by the Spanish government or church into alleged abuse by members of the clergy in Spain.

Podemos, the hard-left junior coalition partner in Spain’s left-wing government, as well as pro-independence parties the Catalan ERC and the Basque EH Bildu, last week filed a petition to open a parliamentary probe into the matter.

The executive body of Spain’s lower house of parliament said in a statement Tuesday it had approved the proposal.

To move forward, it will now need to be voted through by a simple majority of lawmakers, although no date has yet been set for such a vote.

The support of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist party will be key during that plenary.

The Socialists in principle support the idea of a parliamentary inquiry, but are also mulling the idea of an independent commission of experts looking into the alleged abuses, as has happened in similar cases in Australia and the Netherlands.

The centre-right Ciudadanos party backs a parliamentary inquiry, but the right-wing opposition Popular Party is opposed unless the initiative is broadened to look at “all institutions” within Spain.

The far-right Vox, Spain’s third-largest parliamentary force, is staunchly opposed to any such probe.

There are no official statistics on child sex abuse in Spain, but in 2018, El País newspaper began investigating abuse allegations and has since received details of 1,246 cases since the 1930s.

The church itself, which has only recognised 220 cases over the past 20 years, has never held a comprehensive investigation, insisting it has protocols in place to manage abuse allegations.

READ MORE: ‘No desire for truth’ in Spain’s Catholic church over child sex abuse

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CRIME

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

Spanish authorities have deported a Moroccan Muslim activist who has lived in the country since he was ten, after accusing him of being one of the "main advocates" of the Salafist movement of ultra-conservative Islamism in Spain.

Extremist deported after living in Spain for 30 years

The 40-year-old was deported to Morocco on Saturday morning after he was held for several weeks at a deportation centre in Barcelona, a police source told AFP.

Officers arrested Mohamed Said Badaoui last month in the northeastern province of Tarragona, where he was the president of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Muslim Community.

A Spanish court in late October approved his deportation due to “his participation in activities contrary to national security” and “public order”.

Spanish police consider Badaoui to be “one of the main advocates in Spain of the most orthodox Salafism, which he preaches so influentially that an increase in radicalism occurred in Tarragona” since he moved there, according to its ruling.

Badaoui arrived in Spain at the age of ten from Morocco and has lived in the Catalan city of Reus for 30 years, where he has a wife and three children.

Police also accused him of “taking advantage” of the “vulnerability” of minors who arrive in Spain without their parents, “mainly of Moroccan origin”, to indoctrinate them in the “most radical Salafism,” which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

Badaoui has rejected these accusations. Well-known in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia where he has lived for nearly three decades, he presents himself as an activist and anti-racism campaigner.

He has been supported by Catalonia’s main separatist parties which govern the region as well as by the regional branch of far-left party Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.

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