Barcelona terror attacks draw diverse reactions online

In Catalan, Spanish and English, responses flooded social networks in the aftermath of the Catalan attacks. Voices from music, arts, and culture expressed condolences and sympathy, often through touching images.

As has been the case in the aftermath of other recent terrorist attacks in European cities, reactions to the terror attacks in the Barcelona area on Thursday, in which 14 people were killed and over 100 were injured, came quickly in the digital realm from all quarters of society.

The internet was filled with Tweets, Facebook posts, and statements expressing condolences for the victims and their families, solidarity with Barcelona and its inhabitants, and resolution to remain firm and united in the face of terror and barbarism. The messages of sympathy came from celebrities, sports stars, and institutions alike.

Read more: Angela Merkel: Barcelona terrorists demonstrated 'contempt for humanity


Terror attack

Witnesses in Barcelona said a van zigzagged down one of city's busiest tourist avenues, Las Ramblas, mowing down pedestrians and leaving bodies strewn across the ground. Police confirmed it was a terrorist attack.


Second rampage

Several hours later, a speeding car killed one person and injured five in the seaside resort of Cambrils. The car's five occupants were shot dead by police. Catalonian authorities have confirmed that the two attacks were linked.


Manhunt started

Police say they have arrested four men suspected of having a role in the attacks. They are still searching for the driver of the vehicle used in Barcelona. He is believed to be on the run, although officials have said he also could have been one of the five shot dead in Cambrils.


'Islamic State' claim responsibility

The so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terror group claimed responsibility for the attacks. "The perpetrators of the Barcelona attack are soldiers of the Islamic State and carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting coalition states," the group's news agency said.


Suspects in custody

Police said three of the detained suspects are Moroccan, and one is a Spaniard. None of them were known to have links to terror groups.


Several victims critical

The Catalan government said that at least 13 people had died in the Barcelona attack, with 61 still receiving treatment for injuries in hospital - 17 of them in a critical condition. Four people wounded in the Cambrils attack remain in hospital. The victims came from at least 34 countries, officials said.


Makeshift memorial

On Friday, thousands of people gathered around a makeshift memorial in Las Ramblas, the site where the van came to a halt. Many left flowers and candles in honor of the victims.


Three days of mourning

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announced three days of official mourning for what he called a "jihadist attack." At a news conference in Barcelona, he told reporters: "Today the fight against terrorism is the principal priority for free and open societies like ours. It is a global threat and the response has to be global."


Minute of silence

King Felipe of Spain, Prime Minister Rajoy and Catalonia Regional President Carles Puigdemont join crowds gathered for a minute of silence in Las Ramblas.


Suspicious explosion

Spanish authorities are also investigating the scene of an explosion late Wednesday that killed one person in the city of Alcanar, some 200 kilometers (124 miles) southwest of Barcelona. Police first thought the explosion was an accident but said Thursday they now believe an explosive device intended for use in Barcelona was being prepared in the building.

Multilingual messages

Some chose to put their sentiments into Spanish, also known as Castillian, which is the official language throughout Spain. Spanish actor Dani Rovira, who starred in the domestic comedy movie "Spanish Affair Two" about the differences between Spanish and Catalan culture, announced on Twitter that he had been filming a new movie on the outskirts of Barcelona at the time of the attacks. On Friday he tweeted his "Thanks to the everyday heroes who heal, donate, protect, investigate, hug, help, empathize and fight so that the bad guys never win." 

Politics | 18.08.2017

Others chose to use Catalan, the co-official language of the highly autonomous region, in expressing their condolences. The Casa Batllo, a house designed by Antoni Gaudi that is a city landmark as well as a UNESCO world heritage site, shared messages in Catalan, as well as in Castillian and English, reflecting the diverse cultural composition of the international metropolis. The drawing shows the Batllo house on the left and the iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral, also a Gaudi design, on the right.

Spanish celebrity chef and US resident Jose Andres expressed his gratitude to both Spanish domestic security forces (Guardia Civil) and Catalan police (Mossos) in English. 

Across social networks, the trending hashtags displaying solidarity with Barcelona included #BarcelonaSomTots (We are Barcelona) and #BarcelonaAmbTu (With you Barcelona) in Catalan and #BarcelonaContigo (With you Barcelona) in Castillian. Many placed the tags side-by-side while others chose to use one or the other. Some people also incorporated the red-and-yellow stripes of the Estelada - Catalan's unofficial flag that is used by independence supporters - into their digital images.

Musical voices

Reactions from the musical realm were also present online, with many coming from Barcelona's famous music institutions that have helped make the city a magnet for the arts and tourism.

The Liceu Theater, one of the world's top opera houses, is located on Las Ramblas, and the building happened to be right near where the terrorists, who drove over pedestrians on the broad boulevard, abandoned their vehicle.

The house shared an image that was circulating online depicting a multi-colored digital watercolor image of the Barcelona skyline, created by Michael Tompsett, overlaid with a black ribbon of morning.

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The Orfeo Catala, a choral society based in Barcelona's Palace of Catalan Music, were in London the day after the Barcelona attacks preparing for their appearance at the BBC Proms, a classical music festival. The chorus shared an image of the moment of silence that preceded its rehearsal with the London Symphony Orchestra under newly installed conductor Simon Rattle.

Urban landmarks

Images of landmarks around the world that used light to honor the Barcelona victims spread across the internet as well.  These included the Eiffel Tower in Paris, which went dark, the city hall in Tel Aviv, which displayed an image of the Spanish flag, and the spire of the One World Trade Center, which New York Mayor Andrew Cuomo tweeted was lit up in red and yellow in solidarity with Spaniards.

And in Barcelona itself, the Torres Glories - a skyline-defining skyscraper that marks the entrance to the city's tech district - lit its windows to display the symbol of the Red Cross aid service.

No to terror, yes to cats?

One of the odder internet trends to emerge in the aftermath of the attacks in Barcelona has been posts of cats. Though cat memes have long proliferated the digital realm, the feline photos labeled with Barcelona-related hashtags expressed condolences and sympathy rather than trying to earn a laugh. Many users stated they were sharing the cat images in order to respect the police's call for sensitivity to victims and their families.