Women rally on Mt Athos

A group of female protesters yesterday violated a 1,000-year-old ban on women entering the territory of Mount Athos, in northern Greece, staging a rally on the fringes of the monastic community in protest at the monks’ alleged encroachment on public and private land. About 500 protesters – women and men – were dispersed by police, who quickly arrived on the scene, but there were no reports of violence. Six women faced misdemeanor charges. According to the protesters – residents of Halkidiki – the attempt to violate the ban on women entering monastic grounds was symbolic. «The monasteries don’t respect the assets of local families so why should we respect them?» said spokesperson Kyriaki Malama. Protesters claim that some 8,200 hectares of «forestland, public tracts and private property» has been wrongfully claimed by monasteries. They want authorities to reverse legal decisions allowing the monasteries access to that land.