The government’s decision to forcibly evacuate pro-refugee activists from three buildings in Thessaloniki on Wednesday prompted a backlash of attacks early on Friday by anti-establishment groups, who hurled firebombs at the house of Minister of State Alekos Flambouraris in Exarchia and smashed office windows at ruling SYRIZA offices in Petralona, also in central Athens, as well as in Kalamaria, in Thessaloniki.
Activists also broke in and occupied the Aristotle University’s School of Fine Arts late Thursday night.
In a statement posted on the anti-establishment Indymedia website, the assailants said the attacks on SYRIZA’s offices were carried out in response to the evacuation of the buildings in Thessaloniki.
No was injured in the attacks but they occurred against the backdrop of a growing rift between SYRIZA and the government over the latter’s alleged strong-arm tactics.
Party members condemned the attacks against SYRIZA offices as “acts of provocation stoking conservative reflexes within society.”
According to analysts, however, SYRIZA’s effort to remain the party at the forefront of grassroots activism has been seriously compromised by the government’s polices, and anti-establishment groups are now turning against both the party and the administration.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, the government has opted to keep a low profile as is struggles to strike a delicate balance between catering to SYRIZA’s traditional sensitivities regarding social activism, the right-wing ideology of its coalition partner Independent Greeks and avoiding conflict with groups that supported it in the past.
The evacuation on Wednesday had led to the arrest of 74 people of the No Border Camp group.
Citizens’ Protection Minister Nikos Toskas justified the operation saying that “no one can do what he wants.”
But he came under a hail of fire by SYRIZA, which accused him of “criminalizing” acts of solidarity, in reference to activists who claim their sitins are done in allegiance with the refugees stranded in Greece.
SYRIZA’s hardline Group of 53 faction denounced the government and pledged to oppose its “law and order” tactics, urging it not to take legal action against those arrested.