‘It’s important for everything to go back to normal, to show those bastards’

Crowds gather in Barcelona to condemn terrorism and support victims of the attack

Policemen, residents and tourists observe a minute’s silence in Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya today to pay tribute to the terror attack victims. Photograph: EPA

The chants rang out on the Ramblas in Barcelona on Friday, as crowds gathered to voice their condemnation of terrorism and support for the victims of the previous day’s attack.

“No tinc por”, Catalan for “I’m not afraid”, was perhaps the most commonly heard slogan. But there were others: “The Ramblas is ours”, “Long live Barcelona” and the battle cry from the civil war, “They will not pass!”

Most of those who took part in the series of small demonstrations along the boulevard were locals, although many tourists stopped to watch.

Flowers had been laid at the site of where the attack began, where the Ramblas meets Barcelona’s huge Plaça de Catalunya. At midday, King Felipe was in that square with prime minister Mariano Rajoy and other political leaders as they observed a minute’s silence.


Antonio Llordes, a baker who lives and works near the Camp Nou football stadium, spent the morning on and around the Ramblas, quietly observing.

“I didn’t sleep all night, I followed it on the radio, on TV, it’s really got to me,” he said. He was also worried about how this could affect the city’s economy. “I’ve lived here all my life,” he added. “Barcelona lives off tourism and it’s a cosmopolitan city.”

Despite the gatherings and chants, it was business as usual to a great extent in the city’s centre, as locals and foreign tourists wandered along the Ramblas, shopped and ate.

Faisal Durrani, a Pakistani who has been living in Catalonia for 15 years, runs a restaurant on the Ramblas that was full of tourists at lunchtime.

“It’s important for everything to go back to normal, to show those bastards,” he said.

In the Hotel Condal, which is in a sidestreet off the Ramblas, employee Jordi González expressed similar sentiments.

“Barcelona has been attacked, so it’s important that people get out on the street,” he said, adding the hotel had not noticed more cancellations than usual in the wake of the attack.

However, the heavy police presence was a reminder it will be some time before Barcelona can relax again. Several roads near the Ramblas were cordoned off as the king and politicians arrived for the minute’s silence.

Laura and Tom Mayhew from Suffolk in the United Kingdom, had been celebrating their honeymoon when the attack took place. They were shopping, just 50 yards or so away from where the van drove off the road.

“At that point we didn’t know what people were running away from,” said Laura. When she and her husband realised what was happening, they hid in the basement of the shop they were in with staff.

As the young couple watched locals demonstrating on the Ramblas on Friday, less than 24 hours later, they admired the show of unity and counted their blessings.

“We feel really lucky because literally, if it had been 10 to 15 minutes before, we would have been right there,” said Laura. “So a lot of things go through your head.”

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe

Guy Hedgecoe is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Spain