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05 October, 2023
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Chlorakas attack highlights growing racial tensions in Cyprus

Far-right parties capitalize on Chlorakas violence ahead of elections

Yiannis Ioannou

Yiannis Ioannou

The violent attack on Syrian residents in Chlorakaslast Sunday during a community demonstration related to the refugee-migration issue represents a failure on multiple fronts. It reflects a society that has produced individuals with racist tendencies who resort to violence against foreigners and those who are different.

The government, particularly during the years 2016-2022, failed to effectively handle the influx of irregular migrants and the refugee crisis, resulting in significant delays in processing asylum applications. This occurred at a time when it was prioritizing fast-tracking citizenship for wealthy individuals of questionable backgrounds.

The incident in Chlorakas should serve as a warning. In terms of security, it's a lose-lose situation for Cypriot society when a racist harms an immigrant or vice versa.

Additionally, the security apparatus was unable to prevent vandalism and attacks, and certain right-wing political parties, notably members of the Democratic Rally, not only sought to exploit the incident for political gain but also attempted to court far-right voters, further complicating the situation in the lead-up to local elections.

Former government spokesperson Marios Pelekanos mentioned the "end of tolerance for integration," a concept examined in international experience and scholarly literature regarding how immigrants assimilate into a society over time and its impact on issues like racism, crime, radicalization, and cultural or economic development within a specific time and place.

The phenomenon of violent refugee movements or mass economic migration is as old as human history. In Cyprus, a country with internally displaced Cypriots ("refugees") due to the events of 1974, it is unacceptable that there is a lack of understanding in the areas of refugee protection, economic migration, and irregular migration. Instead, these areas should be where everyone demands:

1. Adherence to international law, especially in a country dealing with an international conflict.
2. Zero tolerance for irregular migration that exploits the system.
3. A society that openly and actively offers and demands respect and solidarity from those in need.

The incident in Chlorakas should serve as a warning. In terms of security, it's a lose-lose situation for Cypriot society when a racist harms an immigrant or vice versa. In the first scenario, there is a risk of radicalization within the community if the racist elements gain ground. In the second scenario, there is a danger of far-right parties gaining electoral strength, eventually trying to impose their ideology through force on the broader political landscape. Furthermore, Turkey is closely monitoring our political and social challenges.

A situation similar to the 2020 Evros crisis in Greece along the Green Line could pose a hybrid threat that we, as a state and society, may not be adequately prepared to address at both crisis and management levels. The incident in Chlorakasshould serve as a wake-up call. If it fails to do so, we may find ourselves in a state of uncertainty with the potential for serious and uncontrollable consequences for Cyprus.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  Chlorakas  |  Paphos  |  attack  |  migration

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