The coalition came under pressure over its record on law and order on Monday, with opposition parties and the Church of Greece heaping criticism on the government after activists disrupted the Sunday service at Thessaloniki Cathedral.
Reacting to Sunday’s incident, which led to 26 people demonstrating in favor of migrants’ rights being arrested, the Church’s Holy Synod slammed the government for failing to issue any statement criticizing the protesters.
“You represent our failure as a society, school, family and democracy,” the Holy Synod said in a message to the activists.
Their demonstration underlined the rising tension in the northern city after the police cleared three squats used to house refugees and migrants. This is thought to have prompted arson attacks on SYRIZA and Independent Greeks offices in Athens early on Monday. Arsonists also attacked the engineering company that has been taken on to demolish one of the buildings in Thessaloniki used as a squat.
The incidents come in the wake of concerns about crime levels in central Athens, particularly the Exarchia neighborhood. As a result, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the opportunity on Monday, when he met with Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, to assure the local official that he would have the conservative party’s “full support” in the effort to ensure law and order in the capital.
“The new New Democracy government will make this a top priority,” he added. “Citizens have to feel safe again. Security is a necessary prerequisite for freedom itself.”
Meanwhile, police were on Monday investigating whether someone shot at a building in the upmarket Athens neighborhood of Kolonaki that also houses the Embassy of Mexico. Forensic experts said a bullet pierced the window of stockbrokerage firm on the third floor and was found embedded in a plasterboard wall inside. Another bullet hole was also found on the facade of the third floor, which houses a clothing company. Police believe the target may have been the embassy as it had been raided on June 29 by members of the self-proclaimed anarchist group Rouvikonas (Rubicon).