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Some 3,000 Muslim immigrants took to the streets in near Barcelona to protest recent cuts in social welfare benefits.
The protest, which took place on December 5 in the industrial city of Terrassa, about 30 kilometers from Barcelona, was organized and attended by Moroccan immigrants.
The size and spontaneity of the demonstration caught local officials by surprise — they had been expecting no more than 300 demonstrators — and reflects the growing assertiveness of Muslim immigrants in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
The protest could confirm the fears of Spanish intelligence agencies that the new Islamist government in Morocco may attempt to incite Moroccan immigrants in Spain to organize demonstrations, in an effort to force Spain’s new conservative prime minister, who takes office on December 22, to resolve a series of longstanding disputes between the two countries.
The starting point for the demonstration was the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Ca N’Anglada, which is located in downtown Terrassa. The demonstrators then made their way through the city center to the municipal social security office.
The Moroccans were protesting austerity measures that make it more difficult for immigrants to collect social welfare handouts from the regional government in Catalonia.