Google Removes Catalan Referendum App on Spanish Court Order

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"We call on the worldwide community to support us and on democrats the world over to help us to defend the rights that are threatened in Catalunya, such as the right of freedom of expression and the right to vote", the Manchester City boss said at a rally back in June.

"We must express a clear wish to have a mediation, regardless of the scenario, that the yes prevails or no", he told AFP.

Puigdemont did no say directly who should mediate Spain's internal feud but indicated that the European Union should fill the void.

"I think it's about democracy and liberty", Ramon Hernández, 80, said.

The noisy demonstrations have largely drowned out opponents of independence, with hardly any counter-demonstrations in favor of remaining part of Spain.

Further afield, Spaniards the country over are anxious.

Jordi Marti, a 63-year-old Barcelona taxi driver, has plastered his vehicle with stickers supporting the vote, saying the central government has kept Catalonia in a chokehold for too long.

"We shouldn't have got to this point".

He said he does not expect violence, because "it's not in the Catalan DNA to use violence to solve political problems".

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Madrid argues the vote is illegal as the courts have ruled it unconstitutional.

Officers have also been seizing items such as ballot papers, while prosecutors have ordered the closure of websites linked to the vote and the arrest of officials organising the referendum.

But those for the vote have mobilised.

More than 4000 members of the Guardia Civil and the national police force have been sent to Catalonia, while security forces have sealed off hundreds of polling stations.

Jordi Turull, the Catalan executive's spokesman, said Friday in Barcelona that nearly 7,000 volunteers are ready to open 2,315 polling stations across the region of 7.5 million people.

Barcelona's Joan Brossa high school, for instance, advertised a series of activities including film screenings, football matches and Zumba dance fitness classes.

Previous opinion polls show that Catalonia's independence is supported by 41 percent of its residents, with 49 percent against it, and while as much as 80 percent of Catalans are in favor of the referendum, majority believe that the vote should be agreed upon with the central government in Madrid. As a result, those inside were allowed to leave but no one could enter.

Photo Parents gathered on Friday at the Miquel Tarradell school in Barcelona, a polling station, to oppose efforts to prevent voting. This comes after 163 schools were occupied by families to prevent their closure. Google has also deleted a smartphone application publicized by the regional Catalan officials aimed at directing voters to their nearest polling stations.

Speaking from a central Barcelona school, where adults and children slept in sleeping bags on gym mats, a separatist supporter who identified herself only as Giselle said: "We slept and waited for them (police) so that they would not try to evict us or tell us what they wanted".

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