Authorities in the Spanish capital have apprehended a group of troublemakers who are accused of inciting mass panic after they infiltrated a nighttime Good Friday procession – one of the most venerated traditions in the country – and began yelling “Allah is great,” sending people running.
Local reports claim that at least eight people were detained as part of what police are hoping was just a prank gone wrong. The Good Friday celebration in Madrid sees the faithful don hoods and traditional garments as they observe religious, so it could have been a particularly vulnerable target for the kind of terrorist attacks against Christians that have rocked other countries around the world.
The security company who oversaw the procession claimed that the culprits “shouted,” used metallic objects to make loud and scary noises, and ran through the crowds will making “wild gesticulations” in order to cause a frenzy.
Witnesses claim that children could be heard crying in fear as a throng of people fled from the scene, with some people falling downstairs and over other people as they desperately tried to escape what they thought was a terrorist attack.
In addition to chanting “Allah is great,” the ne’er-do-wells also screamed a variety of slogans that are popular with the Basque separatist group ETA, which is also notorious in Spain for carrying out a number of violent terrorist attacks.
In all, 17 victims were hospitalized for minor injuries and panic attacks, but authorities were able to regain control of the situation and allow the procession to continue. A government spokesperson claimed that the incident had nothing to do with any radical terrorist groups and was simply a case of “common delinquents” trying to stir up trouble.