School officials in a racially diverse community in Paphos say they fear retaliation from student groups, following an incident that made headlines after a teenager’s parents told police their son was assaulted during recess.
Local media said the parents of a 13-year-old Greek Cypriot student filed a complaint with police, saying their son was assaulted by schoolmates of Syrian descent.
The incident allegedly took place on Wednesday during morning recess at a junior high school in Emba, Paphos district, where racial tensions have been running high in the last few years.
According to Philenews, the victim initially stated he had been attacked by five Syrian students, while police had been told the alleged assault was perpetrated by two boys also aged 13.
Reports said the victim allegedly had pushed one of the two Syrian students during morning recess, with one of them later pushing the Greek Cypriot who sustained minor abrasions and bruises
Reports said the victim allegedly had pushed one of the two Syrian students during morning recess, with one of them later pushing the Greek Cypriot who fell down and later taken to the Emergency Room at Paphos General Hospital where he was treated for minor abrasions and bruises.
While details of the incident were not fully clear, the School Board on Thursday hired a security guard on the premises. Reports also said the institution has sent an urgent letter to the Education Ministry asking for funds to make the position permanent starting next week.
An official from the Paphos’ Federation of Middle School Parents Associations, Christodoulos Demetriou, has condemned the incident and expressed “sympathy towards the 13-year-old student who was attacked.”
Demetriou also said there were real concerns of possible “retaliation from students or even a vendetta” and called on the police and government officials to investigate the incident and punish the perpetrators.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the junior high principal, Rinos Stefani, said the school was investigating the incident, saying one of the two students involved said “the fight started because of a push.”
“We condemn any act of violence amongst students,” Stefani said.
Additional reports said the targeted student declined to comment on the incident after the hospital visit, citing fatigue, telling school officials he would speak about the incident the following day.
Violent altercations between locals and foreigners have been taking place in Emba, where local residents have been up in arms over recent arrivals of Syrian and African refugees.