WhatsApp Groups Probed Following Canary Islands Migrant Attacks

WhatsApp Groups Probed Following Canary Islands Migrant Attacks

Fake news stories about the Canary Islands' large migrant population has sparked xenophobic attacks - Image Source: Twitter

POLICE in the Canary Islands are probing WhatsApp groups advocating and organising attacks on migrants as fake news generates xenophobia in Las Palmas.

Prosecutors in the Canary Islands have launched an investigation into WhatsApp groups that advocated and organised attacks on migrants over the weekend.

Several violent encounters between Canary Islands residents and migrants were reported, including assaults. Authorities say that fake news stories – including a false report that a migrant murdered a local resident – are running rampant on local social media and have sparked xenophobia.

Several WhatsApp group chats are now being probed by investigators, with users allegedly spurring each other on to attack migrants with phrases such as “the Moors are going to die” – a reference to the Muslim civilisation that once ruled much of Spain.

The mayor of Los Palmas, Augusto Hidalgo, warned islanders not to fall into “xenophobic comments and hoaxes”, stressing that in the capital “there is no security problem (…), but we could have one if we feed this hatred”.

The Canary Islands has seen a huge influx of migrants over the last year, as many opt to make the treacherous journey from North Africa to the archipelago over the Atlantic rather than risk being caught by authorities on the increasingly secure Meditteranean.

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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...