Po­lice move right­ists from site for mosque

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Po­lice last night stood guard out­side a site in Votanikos, near cen­tral Athens, that has been slated for the cre­ation of the cap­i­tal’s first mosque after ar­rest­ing 15 na­tion­al­ists who had been oc­cu­py­ing the premises.

The raid was car­ried out early yes­ter­day by riot po­lice who ar­rived at the scene with a prose­cu­tor. The in­ter­ven­tion came after the Greek state, which is to fund the con­struc­tion of the mosque, brought a le­gal suit against those on the site for dis­turb­ing the peace. Fif­teen peo­ple were es­corted from the grounds peace­fully.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, 10 of the 15 had been de­tained in the past on a string of charges rang­ing from fraud and theft to drug deal­ing. Po­lice con­fis­cated knives, axes and flares from the grounds.

The squat­ters, who have been on the site since July, set up a makeshift church on the premises where the mosque is to be built. They had named their ini­tia­tive “The Home­less Hos­tel,” say­ing they were giv­ing poor Greeks the sup­port that the state gives to mi­grants in re­cep­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

Most of the peo­ple es­corted off the premises be­long to na­tion­al­ist or re­servist as­so­ci­a­tions but they de­nied links to neo-Nazi Golden Dawn even though the party has pub­licly sup­ported their ini­tia­tive. Fol­low­ing a rally out­side the site last Sunday, where the key speaker was GD leader Nikos Michalo­li­akos, the party’s spokesman Ilias Ka­sidiaris and an­other prom­i­nent MP, Ilias Pana­gio­taros, vis­ited the premises yes­ter­day after the raid and con­demned po­lice for in­ter­ven­ing at a site “for Greeks” while ig­nor­ing hun­dreds of makeshift mosques in the cap­i­tal. Ka­sidiaris ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of try­ing to Is­lam­i­cize Greece and of “racism against Greeks.”

Ear­lier this week, the gen­eral sec­re­tary of Greece’s Jus­tice Min­istry, Costis Pa­paioan­nou, said the pro­test­ers’ ac­tions were “rem­i­nis­cent of past man­i­fes­ta­tions of hate which pose a threat to law, or­der and se­cu­rity.”

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