Protesters hols a giant Spanish flag during a demonstration called by "Societat Civil Catalana" (Catalan Civil Society) to support the unity of Spain on October 8, 2017 in Barcelona. (AFP / JORGE GUERRERO)
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In Spain the sight of countless red and yellow national flags was usually only seen at football stadiums -- until Catalonia's independence drive fanned the fires of patriotism this week.Catalan separatist leaders have threatened to declare independence this week based on an outlawed Oct.1 referendum.A company that manufacturers Spanish flags, Sosa Dias, said it could not keep up with demand.Since the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975, "the right has had a terrible complex that people will associate patriotism with the years of oppression".The anti-independence demonstrators said their action was about unity, not nationalism.The Catalan crisis has sparked fierce rhetoric on both sides and debate in the media about what it even means to be Spanish.Spain's conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted there was nothing alarming about the surge of patriotism.Josep Pique, a Catalan former minister of Spain's governing People's Party, wrote a column in El Mundo newspaper defending "the tremendous importance of Spanish patriotism".
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