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Arabs in Greece will not organize protests against the anti-Islam film

24 September 2012 / 21:09:50  GRReporter
6536 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

Heavy clashes, damage to cars and shops and over 30 arrests marked the protest of Muslims in Athens against the film "Innocence of Muslims" on Sunday. Around 1,000 participants gathered in Omonia Square and tried to continue to Syntagma Square and from there to the US Embassy, ​​but the police thwarted their attempts. Then, the clashes started. Later, there was unrest in the prison in the suburb Korydallos, which sources from the Ministry of Justice connected with the wild meeting in downtown Athens. The rebellion began in the early afternoon and lasted until 9 pm. Sources say it broke out in the wings, where the majority of prisoners are foreigners. The spirits calmed after the participants burned several makeshift American flags.


 
Late in the evening, journalist offices received a message from the Muslim Association of Greece, which had organized a press conference for the controversial film last Friday. The text made it clear that the organization separated itself in full from the protest demonstration. GRReporter contacted its chairman Naim Elghandour, who explained the reason for this decision.

Mr. Elghandour, who organized the demonstration and why didn’t you take part in it?

We, the Muslims of Greek, Arabic and African descent organized the press conference, which was at a very high level. We chose this way to respond to the film that does not deserve holding a protest against it. What is the point of facing the Greeks, who are buried under a bunch of problems and protesting for my religion when they are not currently thinking even of theirs. It is not the right time to burden the people in this way.

The second reason is that when a demonstration is hastily prepared, its organizers are not able to protect it from the involvement of extreme elements nor can they stop any of the participants from inflicting damage. We held many protests. For example, we held one for our Prophet in 2006, which was attended by 10,000 people and we did not allow anything to happen.

Yesterday's events were disgraceful. It is completely unacceptable for owners of shops to find broken shop windows and stolen shelves.

When was the decision to hold yesterday’s procession made?

I would say that they had organized it somewhat cowardly, with phone calls. They did not call me personally, nor were we invited to participate. They called late in the evening, after the event, when 60 people were arrested and among them was the Imam who served in the mosque in the suburb of Peristeri. They wanted our assistance to release him, if possible.

We do not agree with what happened. We live in a democratic country that gives us the right to hold a procession and we should behave in a democratic manner. Breaking someone else's property is not a democratic action. This is vandalizing.

Do you think these protests will continue?

No, I do not think so. If the Arabs do not participate, demonstrations cannot be successful. Nothing more will happen.

You said at the press conference that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was a racist. What was the grounds for this accusation?

I said this in the context of a discussion and unfortunately, some media did not publish my words in context. I said that in connection with his statements before the elections in which he said, "Let’s take over our cities again." This shows that he considers immigrants invaders. Isn’t that racism?

Currently, people who organize and carry out racist attacks are directing them at immigrants from countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. They are not able to respond to them appropriately. However, they do not do the same with people who respond to them the same. Their target is not Muslims but immigrants in general. During a recent attack in the suburb of Kallithea, the wounded victims were Arab Christians.

Are there some actions of the government and the party, which can be defined as racist?

So far, the Prime Minister has not even once declared himself publicly against the attacks on immigrants. His statements of the cities invaded by immigrants are still on the website and the Youtube profile of New Democracy. Why don’t they remove them? This is what I told the members of New Democracy, who said I had to publicly apologize to the Prime Minister. I replied that I would apologize but it would happen when those videos are removed from there. As I said at the press conference, the fact that the Prime Minister comes from a Greek family in Egypt is what hurts me the most. How could a person from a family of immigrants behave like this to immigrants?

We recognize that there is a problem with immigrants in Greece, who have entered the country illegally, and we try to give our suggestions for solving it, but the government does not hear us.

Tags: SocietyMuslimsClashesProtestsMuslim Association of GreeceNaim ElghandourAntonis SamarasRacism
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