Far-right Vox party censured for veiled Twitter threat against satirical magazine editor

by Deborah Cater
José_Antonio_Ortega_Lara_ de Vox Image by Contando Estrelas from Vigo, España / Spain

The El Jueves publication had featured a series of caricatures of the Vox leaders, including co-founder and former ETA hostage José Antonio Ortega Lara.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) has criticised far-right party Vox for suggesting the head of an editorial group that publishes El Jueves be held to account for its content on the street outside his office.

On Tuesday, Vox’s official Twitter account published the person’s name and photograph. It also accused the magazine, El Jueves, of “spreading hate against millions of Spaniards on a daily basis”.

It added: “It’s possible that many of them may begin demanding that he takes responsibility for it when they see him leave his office.” The tweet referred to the city and street location of the office.

Vox posted the controversial message in response to a tweet from El Jueves. The magazine’s tweet drew attention to their cartoon series drawn in the style of the Garbage Pail Kids sticker set.

Condemnation for Vox’s actions

Raúl Salazar, one of the authors of the cartoons, thanked the far-right party for its attack. “I’m very happy that my work (together with Juanjo [Cuerda]) is pissing off these blubbing fascists so much,” he wrote via Twitter.

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A spokesperson for the publisher said, “This is not the first time that we’ve received threats for publishing El Jueves, nor the first of this kind from Vox”. The publisher, which includes National Geographic among its featured titles, has ruled out taking any measures for now. “We have never responded to anything,” the spokesperson added.

RSF, which works to protect freedom of expression, condemned Vox’s actions. They tweeted Vox had crossed every line – “not just ethical ones, which it’s ignored for some time, but also legal ones” – by “singling out an editor and providing his work address so that ‘he takes responsibility’ when he steps on to the street”.

The former Spanish health minister Salvador Illa offered his “most forceful condemnation” of Vox’s actions. His fellow Socialist MP José Zaragoza added his thoughts when he tweeted, “They hate humour. They hate intelligence, they hate, they hate, they hate. That’s why Vox has singled out the editor of El Jueves – because humour is the greatest enemy of hatred.”

Similar to verbal attack on Charlie Hebdo?

Vox denied its intention was to shine the spotlight on the individual editor. As part of their defence, they cited an incident when comments made on social media – by figures such as co-founder of leftist Podemos party Juan Carlos Monedero – blamed Vox and its rhetoric for the alleged homophobic attack in Galicia.  

Monedero did not stay silent. “In France, the people who do this kind of thing are jihadists. Public prosecutor?” he wrote via Twitter. He was referring to the 2015 attack on the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. That attack was over its publication of cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

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