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Anniversary of train bombings highlights political divisions

Remembrance of the train bombings that struck Madrid five years ago — proving for the first time that terrorism inspired by Osama Bin Laden was a reality in Europe — was tainted by political divisions in Spain that show no sign of healing.

Following a few moments of silence in the Spanish parliament to remember the 191 people who lost their lives on commuter trains bombed during a Madrid morning, leaders of the governing Socialists and opposition People’s parties faced-off over the headline-grabbing economic worries.

That left local leaders of Madrid’s town hall and regional seat — both governed by the People’s Party — to preside over a floral offering that opposition Socialists in the local government boycotted in protest over Madrid’s recent handling of an internal investigation into political espionage. There were reminders of further divisions when the Madrid Socialist party, as well as two separate victims’ groups, all made their own independent arrangements to mark this fifth anniversary in Madrid and outlying areas where bombs exploded in the trains.

The March 11, 2004 terrorist attack changed Spain’s political course. It struck just three days before an upset election victory by Socialist President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Spanish society has been politically polarized ever since.

The fortunate flipside to disagreements among Spaniards is an agreement among Muslim immigrants, according to a recently released survey, that most feel they lead a well-integrated life in Spain.

Five years after pseudo-Islamic radicals committed their atrocities in Spain, a Spanish population that has done well to distinguish terrorists from hard-working Muslim immigrants could make more effort at reaching civil understandings amongst themselves for the good of all.