The deep division among Spanish national politics caused by the extreme, far-right party Vox was visible again this week, as reported by The Guardian, when a court decided on the lawfulness of a political campaign poster that occurred back in May. Spanish human rights groups have been watching the development of a debate surrounding the controversial and false depiction of migrant minors in a political campaign. At the center of the debate: the anti-immigrant campaign poster of the Vox party that was put up in Madrid’s Sol Metro station during May elections. It showed two faces: that of a minor male migrant – dark skinned, half of his face covered to emphasise a thuggish appearance – and that of an elderly white woman looking down. The claim on said poster stated: “A MENA (immigrant minor): €4,700 per month, your grandmother: €426 pension per month.” An additional slogan asked for the protection of Madrid and urged its inhabitants to vote for safety.
Along with the usage of “mena”, which is a derogatory term for unaccompanied migrant minors, the poster contains misleading information and numbers. This was called out and strongly criticised immediately and a complaint was filed by a local state prosecutor’s office. But now, a Spanish court decided that the depiction on the campaign poster that works with anti-migrant, discriminating, false and misleading wording and imagery, was lawful. But where are the ethical boundaries in the depiction of already marginalised and stigmatised minorities, such as refugees? When it comes to the publication of false and misleading information as well as stigmatising symbolism and imagery: Human beings, and children especially, must be protected from discrimination. And discrimination often start with generalisations – verbally and graphically. And to combine those generalisations with false information disguised as facts is like adding fuel to the fire.