November 17 sympathizers stoke rage

The government and opposition united yesterday to condemn a march on Tuesday that included slogans by supporters of the November 17 terrorist organization. A public prosecutor filed charges against unknown persons in connection with the slogans that were chanted by demonstrators and painted on the walls of the Athens Academy. In a related development, about 20 masked youths yesterday threw firebombs into the entrance of the building housing the right-wing Apoyevmatini newspaper on Feidiou Street in central Athens. The entrance and a car parked outside were damaged. Apoyevmatini publisher Nikos Momferatos, who was shot dead in 1985, was among November 17’s 23 victims. Prosecutor Sotiris Bayias, responding to slogans that praised the terrorist suspects and insulted the memory of the gang’s victims, filed misdemeanor charges for damage to property and for the praising of crimes. Police began to examine video footage of the demonstration by about 800 people in order to identify suspects – most of whom appeared to be wearing hoods. «This is the grandeur of our democracy… That however much we disagree with what they say, and we disagree totally, we must protect the right of everyone to say what he will,» government spokesman Christos Protopappas said. New Democracy spokesman Theodoris Roussopoulos was less abstract. «Democracy, no matter how tolerant it is in the face of those who want to weaken it, has the obligation, in the framework of constitutional legality, to defend itself,» he said. Athens mayoral candidate Dora Bakoyianni, whose husband Pavlos Bakoyiannis was murdered by November 17 in 1989, was furious. «I feel rage and revulsion at yesterday’s image of hundreds of supporters of November 17 who, without shame, provoked not only the families of the victims but all of society as well,» she said. «The only positive thing is today’s universal reaction by the news media and by citizens,» she added. «It is not permissible that in such a city, in such a society, which did not hold demonstrations against terrorism, there should be such displays by people who today might be wearing hoods but who have names, surnames and addresses.»