Riots regarded as ‘social uprising’

As an opinion poll yesterday showed that six out of 10 Greeks believe the past week of violent riots were a «popular uprising» and not the work of «minority activists,» politicians from across the spectrum expressed differing opinions about what action should now be taken. According to a survey carried out by polling firm Public Issue for Kathimerini, 60 percent of Greeks believe last week’s unrest, triggered by the police killing of a teenager, had been «a mass phenomenon.» Nearly half (42 percent) of respondents, questioned on Thursday and Friday when the rioting had abated, said they believed the widespread damage wreaked during the unrest had been the work of «a few people» with only 10 percent believing that the majority of demonstrators had been involved. Also half (47 percent) believed the protests were spontaneous, and «not politically motivated.» The survey also revealed public discontent with the authorities’ reaction to the crisis. A total of 76 percent were dissatisfied with the police response to the rioting, while four in 10 said they believed that none of the country’s political leaders had adopted the proper stance. Over the weekend, politicians sought to correct this impression. Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis told yesterday’s Adesmeftos Typos that he thought the young generation was being exploited by extremist groups and appealed to disaffected youths to come forward for dialogue. «Take off your masks! No one has the right to cover your faces. Express yourselves freely and we will listen to you,» the minister said. Meanwhile, the leader of opposition PASOK, George Papandreou, reiterated his party’s calls for early elections, saying that was the only solution for the country’s ills. «The country needs change urgently,» he said. Another impassioned appeal came from veteran leftist Leonidas Kyrkos, who condemned the recent violence and dissociated himself from others on the left who avoided denouncing rioters. «I condemn them all in the name of the historical labor movement; I forbid them from invoking the name of the left, they have nothing to do with it,» Kyrkos wrote in an article published in Eleftherotypia. Archbishop Ieronymos also spoke out on Saturday. Angry youths, he said, «are not against the authorities and their values but against all of us who teach them (these values) and then betray them shamelessly and relentlessly.» Youths attack the Exarchia police station as protesters hold candlelit vigils a week after a teen’s death Youths attacked police stations, stores and banks in Athens and Thessaloniki on Saturday as candlelit vigils were held to mark a week since a police officer shot dead 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos, triggering a wave of riots across the country. There were no reports of injuries, but police detained dozens of suspected rioters. About 100 youths congregated in the central district of Exarchia and a group broke off to firebomb the police station, where the two officers awaiting trial for the youth’s killing had been based. Outside Parliament there was a tense standoff between police and a crowd of around 2,000 demonstrators. There was unrest on Patission Street too yesterday, after youths hurled firebombs at three banks near the National Technical University of Athens and set fire to cars and trash bins. An office of the Environment Ministry was targeted as well. In Thessaloniki, about 2,000 youths staged a rally on Saturday evening that was marred by outbreaks of violence, including a firebomb attack on the local offices of the Communist Party. The protests are set to continue this week. Pupils are organizing a rally today outside the police headquarters on Alexandras Street in central Athens. Rallies are also planned for Wednesday and Thursday.

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