Why people are posting cat photos in response to the Barcelona attacks

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Kayleigh Dray
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The recent attack in Barcelona saw a van plough into the Las Ramblas district, killing 14 people and leaving more than 100 others wounded – at least 15 of which are said to be in a serious condition.

Since then, police have confirmed that they have made three arrests, and shot five suspected terrorists dead. However, they are still hunting for Younes Abouyaaqoub, now named as the suspected driver.

However, while officers are appealing for information, they have called upon the public to stop spreading misinformation and malicious rumours on social media.

They have also urged people not to share graphic photos or videos of the event.

“Out of respect for the victims and their families, please, do not share pictures of injured in collision with #Ramblas of Barcelona,” reads the tweet from the official National Police Account of Spain.

As a result of this, many have taken it upon themselves to flood social media’s #Barcelona hashtag with photos, videos and gifs of cats.

Why? Well, they hope that the influx of images will help to drown out any propaganda being spread about the attacks in Barcelona, as well as potentially dangerous misinformation and rumour, while some believe it could help make it more difficult for any would-be terrorists searching for information that could help them in some way.

It is also hoped that the cat photos will make it significantly harder to view any “insensitive and traumatic” photos or videos taken of victims.

There was a similar response to a terrorist threat in Brussels in 2015.

The Islamic terror group Isis has claimed responsibility for the attack in Barcelona, including the second van attack in the seaside resort of Cambrils on Thursday (17 August), in which seven people were injured.

An explosion at a house in the coastal town of Alcanar on Wednesday night (16 August) is thought to be related to the incidents in Barcelona and Cambrils. One person died in the blast, according to Sky News, while another was seriously injured.

Spain’s interior minister, Juan Ignacio Zoido, has said that the country will maintain its security alert level at four, one notch below the maximum level which would signal an attack was imminent.

“We are going to redirect our efforts and will adapt these to every place or area that needs special protection,” he confirmed during a news conference over the weekend.

Zoido added that Spanish authorities considered the cell behind the attacks to have been fully dismantled. 

Anyone with concerns for the safety of loved ones in Barcelona are being asked to contact the Consular Assistance team on 01-4082000.

Images: iStock


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.