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Thousands march in Madrid against Pope's visit

Protesters chanted “Nothing for the Pope from my taxes” in a demonstration against the cost of the papal trip.

A Catholic pilgrim walks past shouting protesters in Madrid
A Catholic pilgrim walks past shouting protesters in Madrid
Image: Emilio Morenatti/AP/Press Association Images

Updated 13.57

THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS have clashed with police in Madrid in a protest against the cost of a visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

The pontiff is due to arrive in the city this morning for the World Youth Day festival, at which he will celebrate an open-air Mass on Sunday. But as Spain’s economic troubles continue, the cost of financing the visit has sparked anger among protesters – who marched through the city shouting “Nothing for the Pope from my taxes”, the BBC reports.

At least six people were arrested during the demonstration, which was largely peaceful, reports Basque news station EITB. According to Reuters, the crowd waved banners saying “The Pope travels, the Pope pays” as they marched. At the centre of the city they met pilgrims visiting for World Youth Day, who chanted “Benedict, Benedict” as some protesters replied “Your Pope is a Nazi”.

It’s thought the visit will cost Spain somewhere in the region of €50 million, Deutsche Welle reports.

The protests come after a chemistry student was arrested yesterday on suspicion of planning a gas attack on anti-Pope protesters. Police said the suspect was a 24-year-old Mexican student who had planned an assault on demonstrators using “suffocating gases” and tried to recruit others via the internet. However, they did not say whether they believed the plan was viable and the student was subsequently released without charge.

Read more: Student arrested for planning gas attack on papal visit protesters >

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Michael Freeman

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