11-M still divides the parties twenty years later

Madrid woke up sunny but cold to honor the victims of the brutal attacks of March 11, 2004 perpetrated by Al Qaeda.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
11 March 2024 Monday 04:21
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11-M still divides the parties twenty years later

Madrid woke up sunny but cold to honor the victims of the brutal attacks of March 11, 2004 perpetrated by Al Qaeda. Although the day, 20 years after the massacre that left 193 dead and more than 2,000 injured, was once again marked by division. Up to five events took place throughout the morning in the capital, although in none of them did the two main parties or the different victims' associations coincide. The president of the Popular Party and leader of the opposition, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, was not even invited to the tribute organized by the Government and the European Commission. According to Executive sources, by not being invited by the Commission.

This central event took place in the Gallery of the Royal Collections, where the King presided over a heartfelt memorial to all those affected by “a tragedy that deeply struck society, leaving it in great shock.” “In seconds or minutes we were all clear about the malicious and murderous nature of that horror that instantly caused a knot in our stomach that would take a long time to disappear and that, in fact, survives when we remember it,” he said.

In the presence of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the presidents of the Senate and Congress, Pedro Rollán and Francina Armengol, respectively, as well as various European authorities, such as the European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, Felipe VI appealed to “memory”, “justice” and “truth” as commitments of “just societies to restore and protect the dignity” of the victims, and praised the pedagogy developed by the different European memorials, such as those in Oslo, Paris and Vitoria, as the best tool to combat “the radicalization of our societies.” The Monarch placed the victims of terrorism as “an ethical reference” in democratic systems and underlined the valuable message they transmit to new generations that “violence is never, ever the solution.”

Later in his speech, the King recalled how on the same afternoon of the tragic 11-M, and while they were still dating, he went with Letizia to various Madrid hospitals trying to comfort the injured and their families and stopped at the "emotional and silent gatherings." that took place throughout the country: “More than 11 million people took to the streets to transmit a strong message against terrorism. So, we were not alone. And so we feel. Solidarity crossed borders,” he noted, recalling the marches held in various cities around the world.

When it was his turn to speak, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, claimed the need to remember the victims of terrorism for their "dignity", but also to defend human rights and reinforce the rule of law with which "they want to end the terrorists.”

The Head of the Executive called to improve prevention mechanisms, to ensure that no one can be attracted to hateful ideas, which he regrets circulate on social networks, and to protect the ideals of justice and freedom in Europe. And sharing the sentiment expressed by Felipe VI, the President of the Government pointed out that "the principles of coexistence and respect are the best antidote against terrorist violence and its breeding ground, fanaticism, unreason and intolerance."

Ylva Johansson and Margaritis Schinas spoke on behalf of the European Union. The Commissioner for Home Affairs extended yesterday's tribute to all those killed in acts of terrorism in Europe and elsewhere. And after recounting the specific cases of some victims present in the auditorium, she conveyed to them all the support of the institutions: “You paid the price for the hatred directed at our values, our societies, our democracies. They are not alone,” she noted.

For his part, the vice president of the European Commission for the promotion of the European lifestyle, Margaritis Schinas, stressed that the attacks in Madrid and other European cities were aimed at “weakening democracy and freedoms.” But “they did not succeed,” Schinas brandished, “because such values ​​are the DNA of the European way of life.”

And at the same time that another alternative tribute began in another part of Madrid, he concluded: “Terrorism cannot divide us; On the contrary: it requires more union.”