The following is from the Cyprus Mail.
'We'll come at night and find you, traitor'
By Charles Charalambous Published on December 29, 2009
SUNDAY’S demonstration in the centre of Nicosia by far-right group National People’s Front (ELAM) and the counter-demonstration by the Anti-fascist Initiative passed off without incident, thanks to self-restraint by the marchers but also a very strong police presence which kept them apart.
The ELAM march “against illegal immigration” – estimates varied between 80 and 150 people participating – started at 5pm from their office near the Commerce Ministry, carrying a banner saying “‘Every foreign worker equals an unemployed Greek”.
Most of the predominantly young marchers were dressed in jeans and black tops, and carried Greek flags on thick short poles.
They headed down Makarios Avenue towards their stated destination of Eleftheria Square. They got as far as the intersection with Grivas Dighenis Avenue, where they were stopped by a deep line of police. They then spent an hour or so chanting slogans such as “ELAM, race, blood and honour”, “Foreigners out of Cyprus”, and “We’ll come at night and find you, traitor”.
Ending his address to the march and media representatives, ELAM representative Stratos Karanicolaou said: “We don’t want further adulteration of the Greek race in Cyprus. We are Greeks and Cyprus is a Greek island.”
The counter-demonstration organised by the Anti-fascist Initiative (AI) – a recently-formed informal network of anti-racist and anti-fascist groups – numbered between 700 and 1,000 people of all ages, and included members of Action for Equality, Support and Anti-racism (KISA), Alert, AKEL, EDEK and the Greens. Spotted among the marchers were Nicosia mayor Eleni Mavrou and Greens deputy George Perdikis.
KISA director Doros Polycarpou told the Mail yesterday that the turnout was gratifyingly higher than expected, despite the lack of formal representation by the main political parties, most of which had condemned the ELAM march in earlier public statements. He added that it was regrettable that the AI counter-demonstration was presented by some parts of the media as “just another KISA demo”, and the day was “over-simplified by some into an anti- and pro-immigrants matter”.
The AI march set off from Eleftheria Square at around 4pm, and headed down Makarios Avenue with the stated aim of peacefully preventing the ELAM march from proceeding towards Nicosia’s old town. They were stopped by police some 600 metres short of the intersection with Grivas Dighenis Avenue, and greeted the ELAM march with chants such as “Fascism will not pass; Racism will not pass” and “ELAM equals Golden Dawn, neo-Nazis out of Cyprus”.
The two demonstrations broke up peacefully at around 7pm. Police maintained a visible presence at strategic points in Nicosia throughout Sunday night, with the express aim of preventing any isolated incidents involving the marchers.
Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC yesterday, KISA president Doros Michael said that ELAM makes a point of playing on the general tendency – also reflected in the media – to emphasise the nationality of anyone charged with committing a crime or involved in a socially-questionable incident. “Unfortunately, many surveys have shown that Cypriots are very xenophobic, and ELAM is seeking to capitalise on this.”
Polycarpou said that AI will be continuing its efforts to engage the political parties, trade unions and other groups in setting up a more permanent network to prevent fascist organisations like ELAM from using the democratic process to further their anti-democratic views.
He said: “It is important to systematically address all aspects of ELAM’s activities, starting by looking at whether the things they are saying are legal under the Constitution and EU law, both of which forbid incitement of racial hatred. We need to raise awareness about their real political aims and slogans, compared to their statements against illegal immigration.”
Polycarpou added: “We have to consider the prospects for the future, with a possible solution to the Cyprus problem. It would not be difficult for inter-communal violence to be provoked with such people around.”