Today we lost a battle. We have known for many years that what has unfortunately happened could happen, but nothing prepared us for the impact of the attack on Barcelona’s Rambla: the pain is too difficult to describe, too close, as intimate and personal as possible. The faces, people’s looks, capture what it was: the kind of blow that truly hurts, the kind that leaves your mouth dry, that pierces your very soul. Not even the decisive action of the regional police in Cambrils, where they prevented a second attack, can lift this sense of mourning that is still gripping us, just hours after the attack.

We have lost one battle, but we shouldn’t lose the other one: the more important one. This attack is the outcome of hatred and resentment, and it also seeks to sow hatred and resentment. However, it’s up to us to avoid letting this happen. We cannot bring the people we have lost back to life. We cannot get back the day they stole from all of us. We cannot forget – nor should we – what has happened. But it is possible for us not to lose the second battle, the one in which Barcelona, or in fact any of our cities, is just yet another piece on a global chess board.

London, Berlin, Nice, Stockholm, Paris, Barcelona… The attacks by small, impenetrable jihadist cells with cars poised to kill are a horrible burden for Europe. They have found a way to seriously thwart the preventative efforts into which the authorities pour such efforts, and this method, as homespun as it is effective, unfortunately seems to be impossible to either stop or easily track.

So now we must rise up knowing that tomorrow, next week or next month, any other city in Europe will experience what we Catalans did yesterday. And that we all have to fight against this barbarity by uniting our efforts to all of those on the front lines in the Arab and Muslim world who are working so hard and under such difficult conditions in favour of this human reason which we want to prevail, the same reason that makes us who we are.

To achieve this, we have to clearly understand that the second, decisive battle, the battle for tolerance, respect for differences and the exercise of human rights, is not being waged among religious groups or among countries or armies.

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Vicent Partal
Director de Vilaweb