Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Situation in Greece: Update

This article in today's Guardian provides some additional, useful background to, and clarification of, the events in Greece I have been following on this blog.

Some interesting points the article raises:
*The Greek police are running out of tear gas, and contacting Israel and Germany for fresh stocks, a testament to the scale and length of the clashes-or, depending on how you look at it, how unprepared the authorities were for a situation like this.
*The recent police shooting of a fifteen year-old youth was not a unique occurrence, but only unique in that the victim was an ethnic Greek, rather than an immigrant or Roma, whose deaths "do not make the media." Additionally, the scene of the shooting has long been "aggressively policed."
*While some have drawn attention to the strength of the "extreme left in the country," as the spokesman for the French Interior Ministry put it in a statement that much of the media has been quick to quote, it would be a mistake to overlook the strength of the extreme right. As the article notes, "the populist Orthodox Rally won 10 seats in parliament for the first time last year, and the neo-fascist Golden Dawn organisation is known to have supporters inside the police."
As the article also notes:
The teenagers and twenty-somethings who have come close to toppling the Greek government are not the marginalised: this is no replay of the riots that convulsed Paris in 2005. Many are sons and daughters of the middle classes, shocked at the killing of one of their own, disgusted with the government's incompetence and corruption, enraged by the broken promises of the education system, scared at the prospect of having to work still harder than their exhausted parents . . .
Anarchist groups dreaming of revolution played a key part in the first waves of destruction, but this week's protests were not orchestrated by the usual suspects, who relish a good bust-up and a whiff of teargas. There's been no siege of the American embassy, no blaming Bush, very few party slogans.
Though the spectacular violence has dominated the news, thousands have also set out to join in peaceful demonstrations, among them parents worried for their children's future. Linked by the internet, by twitter and text messages, many are trying to distance themselves from the destruction, which they attribute to "extremists, idiots and provocateurs."
That fact may not be comforting, but it would be a grave error to overlook it, especially because, as the sympathy for the protests has evoked in other countries demonstrates, Greece is far from being the only country in such a bind.

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