Spain: 'One in 10 on streets' for language demo

Protesters in Palma

Nearly 10% of people in the Balearics took to the streets to defend the use of Catalan language in schools, it's claimed.

Teaching unions say 110,000 people - clad in green - attended rallies on Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza in support of a strike against the conservative Popular Party government's law to implement a trilingual system, with teaching in English alongside Catalan and Castillan Spanish. The government reportedly put the figure at 70,000. The population is about 1.1 million. Newspaper Diario de Mallorca suggested more people were mobilised than during anti-Iraq War protests, with demonstrators claiming the law attacks rights they won since the Franco dictatorship. It comes during an upsurge in separatist sentiment among Catalans.

Government hopes that the strike would anger parents seem to have been misplaced, El Pais newspaper reports. Despite saying that the protests are unrepresentative, the regional government is showing signs of flexibility, it seems. Social Affairs Councillor Sandra Fernandez tweets that "The Popular Party won elections by betting on trilingualism. We seek agreement." The Balearics were captured by the Crown of Catalonia in the 15th Century and 70% of parents still choose for their children to be taught in Catalan, according to minorities campaign group Ciemen.

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