Arabs targeted in Spanish police memo


A memo drawn up by Spanish police in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks has prompted outrage after it issued guidelines for dealing with people with distinctive Arab features.

The document, drawn up by the Western Andalusian police force, was first revealed by the Internet website 20 minutos in mid-January and instantly caused outrage.  Although it warns against making any type of ‘racist or xenophobic’ comments, police are told to verify entry visas for anyone known to have travelled to one of the following countries: Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.

Algerians, who are described as "more confrontational" than Moroccans, are told to be paid particular attention. 

Police are also told to watch out for Arabs who make videos in non-touristy areas, particularly those who film near public infrastructures, such as bus stops, train stations or inside the subway. The reason given for the extra vigilance is that “terrorist cells tend to record their acts so they can put them online”.

The document continues: ‘When individuals of Arab origin are found in a vehicle using a portable laptop, they’re probably trying to hack into a WiFi network so they can hide their IP address".  If they're caught looking at jihadist websites, they must be identified and their names given to the police, the memo adds. 

Police are also asked to make sure that potential suspects aren’t hiding any explosives.

The controversial document in full.

The memo angered Algeria’s ambassador to Spain, Mohamed Haneche, while Noureddine Benmeddah, the president of the Spain-based European Federation of Algerian Associations, was quick to announce that he would complain to the Interior Ministry in Madrid. Internet users have also slammed the memo for being racist and xenophobic.

This Twitter user slams the guidance, calling it 'shameful and disgusting'.

Faced with a barrage of criticism, the Spanish police chief ordered his Andalusian counterpart to remove the memo on January 14. Authorities added that it ran contrary to the fundamental principals that Spanish police are supposed to abide by. According to the European Convention on Human Rights, discriminating against people on the grounds of sex, race, colour, language or religion must not be allowed.

Security has been bolstered across Spain in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, particularly in areas surrounding public buildings.

This Twitter user calls the document "a torrent of prejudices and stereotypes".