Injured people, shops in ruins: right-wing extremists rage against migrants. Observers speak of “pogrom-like conditions”. In the evening, Cypriots took to the streets against racism.
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. 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 the day before. “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.
Demonstration against racism
Hundreds of people took to the streets in the Cypriot port city of Limassol on Saturday evening to demonstrate against fascism and racism. “Smash fascism – in Limassol and everywhere,” chanted the demonstrators. According to the police, the demonstration was peaceful, the Cyprus Radio (RIK) reported.
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.
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