Quim Torra sworn in as Catalan pres­i­dent amid xeno­pho­bia claims

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Torra has been sworn in as the 131st pres­i­dent of Cat­alo­nia amid grow­ing pres­sure over the “xeno­pho­bic” and anti-Span­ish tone of his past writ­ings and com­ments.

Torra, a hard­line Catalan na­tion­al­ist hand­picked by the re­gion’s de­posed pres­i­dent, Car­les Puigde­mont, was elected by 66 votes to 65 on Mon­day and as­sumed of­fice at a low-key cer­e­mony in Barcelona on Thurs­day.

“I prom­ise to loy­ally ful­fil the du­ties of the post of re­gional pres­i­dent be­ing faith­ful to the will of the Catalan peo­ple rep­re­sented by the Catalan par­lia­ment,” he said, us­ing the same for­mula as Puigde­mont and avoid­ing men­tion of obey­ing the Span­ish con­sti­tu­tion. Cen­tral govern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives did not at­tend the cer­e­mony.

Since his ap­point­ment the 55-year-old lawyer and ed­i­tor has been dogged by ac­cu­sa­tions that he is Puigde­mont’s pup­pet and that his long his­tory of an­tiS­pan­ish com­ments makes him un­fit to lead a govern­ment. Six years ago, Torra wrote an ar­ti­cle in which he de­scribed Span­ish­s­peak­ers in Cat­alo­nia as “car­rion-feed­ers, vipers and hye­nas” who hated the Catalan lan­guage and cul­ture and were “beasts in hu­man form”.

“It is a sick pho­bia,” he wrote. “There is some­thing Freudian in these beasts, a rough patch in their DNA.”

In a string of tweets writ­ten the same year, Torra sug­gested that “Spa­niards know only how to plun­der”, claimed that Cat­alo­nia had been un­der Span­ish oc­cu­pa­tion since 1714 and said Spa­niards had long since re­moved the word “shame” from the dic­tionary. He later apol­o­gised “if any­one was of­fended by the tweets”.

Torra is sworn in on Thurs­day. An ar­ti­cle has come to light in which he de­scribed Span­ish speak­ers in Cat­alo­nia as ‘car­rion-feed­ers, vipers and hye­nas’.

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