In distant Catalonia, Sikhs find a cause they can identify with
- Trouble mounts for Sreesanth as Mumbai cops gather more evidence
- SIT to seek Supreme Court guidance on Maya Kodnani death penalty issue
- Tamil Nadu police bans Yasin Malik-linked pro-Eelam public meeting
- Kings XI Punjab end IPL 2013 campaign with a win
- Narendra Modi: India losing sheen as agricultural nation
Catalonia's gathering drive to separate from Spain has been a mixed blessing for Enrique Shen.
It has been good for business. Last month, before a giant rally in Barcelona to support independence, Shen ran out of the Catalan flags he sells because customers snapped up about 10,000 of them in just a week. But as an immigrant who moved here from Shanghai 20 years ago, he is worried by the separatists' claims to a distinct Catalan national culture, language and identity. "It's always best to be part of a larger country, just like having a bigger family to help you," Shen said. Immigrants like Shen illustrate the complexities of identity in Catalonia, where they have helped make the economy both the largest among Spain's regions and the most diverse, alongside Madrid, with sizeable populations of Muslims, Sikhs, Chinese and others.
As Catalonia prepares for a regional election on November 25 that could become an unofficial referendum on independence, 1.5 million residents, out of a total population of 7.5 million, will not be eligible to vote because they are not Spanish citizens. Badalona's hardline conservative mayor Xavier García Albiol wants a crackdown on illegal immigration, and tried unsuccessfully this year to block the opening of a new mosque here.
Abdelkrim Latifi I Boussalem, who left his native Casablanca, Morocco, 22 years ago, said that even before Albiol was elected last year, the municipality had struggled to accept Moroccans and Pakistanis who form the bulk of the city's Muslim population.
Sikhs are among the immigrants who express some empathy for the separatist movement, drawing a parallel with what they say are their own struggles at home. An estimated 13,000 of the 21,000 Sikhs who have moved to Spain since 2000, mostly from Punjab, have settled in Catalonia. Gagandeep Singh Khalsa, who is fluent in Spanish but prefers to speak Catalan, acts as an interpreter for his fellow Sikhs. "I feel in harmony with the people here because we have been facing the same problems with India over Punjab," he said.
- Quake-hit and shaken, Bhaderwah spends nights in the open
- UP blast accused dies on way to jail, govt wanted to drop case against him
- Former civil aviation secy changes mind, seeks airport security exemption as EC
- BCCI suspects Gujarat players in other teams were also approached
- Police on money trail, Sreesanth in fresh trouble
- Chhattisgarh 'encounter' leaves 8 villagers dead, no Maoist link yet