Excerpt:

Gines is a municipality of the province of Seville with little more than twelve thousand inhabitants. At the end of April it's already over thirty degrees. I meet Fatima Mohamed Kaddur in front of the headquarters of the Guardia Civil (military police) where she arrives with a friend, Maria. Fatima has a friendly air, and takes us to the head office of the Gines partido popular (People's Party). On the walls Spanish and Andalucian flags hang alongside a portrait of Mariano Rajoy, the party chief and Spain's opposition leader.

Fatima, 43, comes from Melilla, an autonomous city on the 'Moroccan' coast of North Africa that came under the Spanish crown in 1497, during the Reconquista of the catholic kings. It seems strange to think of a Muslim in a party like the Spanish PP; a right of centre party with catholic leanings. This, of course, is the first thing one thinks to ask her about, but I don't get the chance to pose the question.

'I know many people are surprised: a Muslim woman, who wears the headscarf, in the PP,' she says, telling me about herself in a well-versed manner. 'In my party I feel integrated, respected and wanted. When you hear it said that the PP is a racist party is simply wrong. And if it fights over immigration, it does it so that those who come here have a contract and live like everyone else.' Melilla, which has a 45% Muslim population, also has a 'Spanish nationalist' rightist tradition: the Moroccan government has demonstrated the will to annex it several times, along with Ceuta and the small islands. But neither Spain, nor less the two cities, have ever considered the offer. Because they feel Spanish.


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