A May 23 article appearing in the online version of the Spanish periodical El País posits that schools are a reflection of society and proceeds to cite a survey conducted by an NGO in Valencia, according to which 34% of high school students are in favor of expelling north Africans not only from their classrooms but from Spain, as well. It is not established whether the 34% applies to high school students in Valencia or the country as a whole, but the percentage drops to 28 when it comes to expelling central African immigrants, to 22 for Chinese, and to 12 for Latin Americans. One analysis of the survey results is offered by a representative of an organization devoted to combating racism in schools, who argues that “[e]l problema de la escuela está en las calles, en las familias.”
My friend Amelia and I had experienced problems of a different nature emanating from the Spanish street, and cross-country hitchhiking trips had confirmed the inadvisability of north African expulsion from Spain given that Moroccans were the only demographic group that picked us up aside from drunks and the Guardia Civil. An added advantage of Moroccan presence in the area was that Amelia and I were granted free accommodations in 2003 and 2004 in a town called Frigiliana, at the house of a construction worker named Abdul who also procured employment for us at the local avocado packing facility.
Located in the hills of Andalucía, Frigiliana was home to a few thousand inhabitants who possessed a view of the Mediterranean and a tendency to refer to resident Moroccans as moros. Other atavistic propensities included the insistence on calculating prices in pre-EU currencies and the insistence on employing fascist rhetoric in the workplace, where our avocado packing bosses commanded Amelia and me to work “como una máquina.”
The bosses were 3 brothers who despite not being able to locate Morocco on the world map in their office were nonetheless aware that moros did not bathe on a regular basis. Such awareness did not deter the brothers from requesting that Abdul import Moroccan girlfriends for them, nor did it apparently prompt them to rectify personal bathing habits. Abdul’s neighbors developed their own notions regarding the behavioral patterns of Moroccans, which ranged from killing lambs on the patio of Abdul’s house during Muslim holidays to killing commuters on trains in Madrid. (An inebriated older resident of Frigiliana did manage to learn Abdul’s name one night in between frenzied bouts of interpretive flamenco dancing, although the resulting pronunciation was something like: “Aduaaaa.”)
The El País article on visions of ethnic expulsion by Spanish high school students also notes an upsurge in anti-Jewish sentiment in the country, one manifestation of which was Abdul’s identification with the Lebanese Hezbollah in 2006 during Israeli attempts to expel demographic groups from the groups’ own country. Hatred for the gypsy population of Spain is meanwhile reported as having been surpassed by hatred for north Africans, despite the fact that—as the founder of the Forum of European Roma Young People points out—the Real Academia Española’s inventory of definitions for the word gitano includes references to fraud and deception.
School curricula applauding historical expulsions of moros is listed as another obstacle to cultural integration in Spain; such obstacles are partially dismantled by the Real Academia’s definition of moros, which also applies to un-baptized children.