Five Britons have been arrested on suspicion of a hate crime after violent scenes broke out in Magaluf between prostitutes and protesters who want them off the streets.
The five appeared before a court in Calvia on Friday and were released pending further investigations.
The court summons occurred after around 20 Nigerian prostitutes complained to police they had been insulted and assaulted by protesters who filmed them without their consent.
Tensions have been building as British expats, who include owners of clubs that cater to tourists and locals, say the prostitutes are behaving badly in the town located in the southwest of the island of Mallorca, known for its beaches and Roman ruins.
The accusations, so far, have less to do with their chosen line of work and more with complaints that the women are targeting holidaymakers and locals, in some cases with the promise of sex, to commit crimes against them.
An organiser of protests against the prostitutes, some of whom have been seen with knives, told The Sun that the women must get out of Magaluf, saying they “have robbed, stabbed, bullied and attacked not only holidaymakers but the residents and seasonal workers of Magaluf”.
They told the Sun that the prostitutes and their pimps are assaulting and stealing from tourists and locals, sometimes hurling stones and sticks at them.
The prostitutes – who are said to lack the proper documents to live in Spain and apparently end up in Magaluf through Nigerian crime groups — say it is the protesters and others who side with them who have crossed the line, harassing and assaulting the women.
They say they are being profiled.
Some five protesters were arrested, charged with hate crimes after about 20 Nigerian prostitutes filed reports with police accusing them of insulting, assaulting and filming them in an effort to harass them.
The assaults, the women say, include pepper spray and being beat up, requiring some of them to seek medical treatment, according to several published reports.
The protesters are furious that police have gone after them, and not, as they describe it, the real law-breakers. They vow to continue protesting throughout the summer, when crowds at the party town swell.
“Nobody does anything against the prostitutes who attack and rob our tourists,” a bar owner told the Spanish newspaper Ultimahora.es. ”We go out to the street to protest and it turns out that now we are the bad guys. I do not understand anything.”
Clashes between the prostitutes and tourists and locals have been going on all week, at times turning particularly violent.
One night, protesters chased some of the women off the street, shouting “The tourists are not coming because of you.” Another yelled: “Get out, get out,” to a woman who picked up a block of wood.
For years, Magaluf has been both a money-maker and major headache for authorities in the area.
On Sunday morning, a tourist from Ireland was found dead after falling from an apartment in the resort town.
The circumstances of the fall were unclear on Sunday; the Irish Times reported that people staying in the building said they heard a noise in the early morning hours. The man is said to be in his 20s.
In April, a 19-year-old Scottish woman holidaying at the resort fell to her death after trying to climb from one balcony to another on the seventh floor, the newspaper said.
Police and other officials have tried tightening rules regarding the wild pub crawls and disorderly behaviour. Some even pushed for changing the name of the town to give it a totally new identity.