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22 June, 2024
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Cyprus universities under fire for failing to denounce extremist violence

The deafening silence of university responses to violence

Apostolos Kouroupakis

Apostolos Kouroupakis

After the troubling events in Chlorakas and Limassol, where right-wing extremists carried out violent acts, have you heard any teachers' unions speak out against these incidents? Have you come across any statements from the Cyprus University of Technology or the University of Cyprus denouncing the actions of these individuals? Has the Cyprus Academy of Sciences, Letters, and Arts made any public statements? Why does it seem so challenging for these institutions, which have a responsibility to act, to issue a clear condemnation of the unacceptable events in Limassol and Chloraka?

I believe that we can combat fascism and xenophobia within our schools and universities, and it's crucial to heed the voices of our educators and scholars on this matter. Have you seen any statements from the official Church of Cyprus, particularly from the Archbishop? Apart from Metropolitan Athanasios to Thanasis Athanasiosiou in Astra, no one else seems to have spoken out. And what he said was a message of love and unity in line with the Church's values.

In any case, he was the sole voice from the hierarchy. Perhaps an official message encouraging pastors to address the theme of the Good Friday troparion "Give me this stranger" during Sunday sermons would help foster understanding of the stranger and the Other among the congregation. It's worth noting that only political parties have taken a stance, likely because such occasions can be politically advantageous for them.

Have you come across any official and coherent statements from the House of Representatives, rather than rehearsed words and statements? Consider the Speaker of the House of Representatives, for example: "The deplorable incidents in Limassol represent a clear failure of lawfulness in the face of lawlessness. The dangerous and chaotic situation caused by a few troublemakers, along with the failure to maintain order, raises serious questions and responsibilities. Those who promote xenophobia, racism, and violence against innocent citizens and property damage through their public statements and actions also bear significant responsibility.

We will not allow our country to descend into chaos!" These 76 words succinctly encapsulate the Speaker of the House of Representatives' message, as well as that of the President of the Democratic Rally. These words also emphasize the shared responsibility of those who fuel xenophobia and related issues through their public actions and statements.

It's worth considering whether the blame lies solely with the hooligans or also with the fascists who targeted businesses, kiosks, people, and property. Didn't the hooligans cause disturbances a few months ago at "Freedom"? Can we attribute all the blame to the hooligans? No, Madam President, in Limassol and Chloraka, it's the extreme right-wing individuals, some of whom hold positions in the House of Representatives and chair committees.

Regarding the phrase "we will not allow our country to surrender to chaos!"—while it's important for the responsible opposition to take action, it's also crucial to address matters within one's own party, such as discussing the views expressed by Mr. Mario Pelekano, the party's vice-president, particularly regarding the integration of immigrants. Some of Mr. Pelekanos's public statements seem to fuel xenophobia, including his comments about children with immigrant backgrounds. "How many years of leap years in an hour | how many marbles they have sown in an hour"... We must act swiftly, as the fear of the Other is spreading and growing increasingly insatiable.

[This article was translated from its Greek original]

Cyprus  |  opinion  |  Chlorakas  |  Limassol  |  riots  |  education

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