Locals react to police plan to crack down on Easter custom in Chios

Locals react to police plan to crack down on Easter custom in Chios

Municipal officials on the eastern Aegean island of Chios on Thursday said that they plan to defy a ban by police on an Easter custom that has been deemed dangerous by authorities.

The custom of “rocket wars,” an exchange of thousands of fireworks and flares between the resident of two parishes in the village of Vrontano on the night of Holy Saturday, dates back to the Turkish occupation and has only been banned twice since: during the World War II Nazi occupation and during the 1967-1973 dictatorship.

“The police has no choice but to uphold the law,” a high-ranking officer told the ANA-MPA news agency on Thursday, adding that inspections are already being conducted to seize illegal fireworks and other projectiles used in the custom.

The officer added that the police received numerous complaints after last year’s event from citizens who felt physically threatened by the dangerous exchange of projectiles and were also concerned about damage to their property.

However, an unnamed municipal official was quoted by ANA-MPA as saying that “the rockets will fly on Saturday night,” echoing Chios Mayor Manolis Vournous who said he plans to defend the custom but also to make sure that the revelry does not get out of hand.

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