Religion: Embattled Basques

The million-odd Basques in northern Spain are Spaniards mainly by geography. As one of Europe's oldest national minorities,*they have fought for centuries to keep their identity distinct from their Spanish neighbors, who had conquered the Basque provinces by the 16th century. During the Spanish Civil War, the Republican government granted the Basques autonomy, and thereby got most of them on its side. After the war. Generalissimo Franco returned to the older

Spanish policy of trying to stamp out Basque culture and traditions.

Politically powerless, the stoutly Roman Catholic Basques have rallied around their church as the last champion of their national rights. Their...

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