Injured people, shops in ruins, burning garbage cans: hooded right-wing extremists rage against migrants in Limassol. Observers speak of “pogrom-like conditions” and the police are helpless.
After a demonstration against refugees and migrants, there have been serious riots in the Cypriot port city of Limassol. Around 350 hooded suspected right-wing extremists – some media reported up to 500 – attacked migrant shops and the people themselves on Friday evening.
Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulidis was outraged: he was ashamed of the incidents, he said at the beginning of a crisis meeting on Saturday morning. The Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Justice, civil protection, the police and the fire brigade also attended the meeting.
“I am ashamed of what happened yesterday,” said Christodoulidis. “Even those who are responsible should be ashamed.” By that he meant the organizers of the demonstration as well as the police and the responsible ministers, whom he reproached: “It cannot be that the state cannot protect its citizens and foreigners.”
“Migrants out of Cyprus”
According to media reports, the masked people chanted “Migrants out of Cyprus”. They threw incendiary devices and stones, set garbage cans on fire, and smashed shops and takeaways. The police used tear gas and a water cannon. Five people were injured and 13 arrested, according to the Cyprus Times. A journalist covering the riots said the hooded men attacked foreigners, who in turn received help from other Cypriots to get to safety. “The police were unable to protect citizens and journalists.” A TV team was also attacked by the masked men. Cypriot media complained about “pogrom-like conditions”.
Right-wing extremists had already attacked migrants in the small town of Chloraka last weekend.
According to the Cypriot Interior Ministry, refugees and migrants now make up six percent of the population. Measured by population, the small island republic also has by far the highest number of asylum applications per year in the EU. The refugee camps are overcrowded, and ghettos have formed in many places where people live in poverty. These conditions serve as a reason for the riots for the ultra-right.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 after a Greek coup and Turkish military intervention. The Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the EU since 2004. As long as there is no solution to the division, EU law and regulations only apply to the southern part of the island. Around 900,000 people live there and around 300,000 in the north. In recent years, Cypriot governments have repeatedly complained that migrants from Turkey travel legally to northern Cyprus and from there cross the green border to southern Cyprus and thus the EU.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.