Written by Veroniki Krikoni
This article is part of our special coverage “Europe in Crisis“.
In Greece, January 6 is the national holiday of Theophany, traditionally known as Phota (”lights”). Customs revolve around the Great Blessing of the Waters: a cross is thrown into the water and people try to retrieve it in order to receive good luck and blessings. Every year, government and civic officials attend the celebrations, after which they have an opportunity to make official statements on the spiritual importance of the day, along with political and social comments.
However, due to the economical, political and social crisis Greece is going through, this year’s celebrations were marked by strong expressions of people’s disapproval and criticism of politicians. This came as no surprise, as it happened earlier during the national celebrations of “Ochi” day on October 28, when President Karolos Papouliaswas forced to leave after protesters called him a traitor.
It happened again this time, when President Papoulias appeared at Chalkida, despite the tradition of going to Piraeus, the country’s major port. Citizens booed him, calling him a traitor and shouting anti-austerity slogans, as the following video [Greek] shows:
A small group tried to reach the dignitaries’ podium, but were blocked by the police. The president departed making no official statement.
Chalkida’s police arrested 6 citizens, 3 men and 3 women, and a file was submitted accusing them of “insulting the President of the Republic’s honor”. The city prosecutor ordered their release.
Netizens commented both on the jeering of Papoulias and the demonstrators’ arrest, with a large majority in favor of the arrested and against the major public figure’s behavior and inaction concerning the current crisis:
Makis: ΣΙΓΑ ΤΟ ΠΡΟΣΩΠΟ.ΚΑΛΑ ΤΟΥ ΕΚΑΝΑΝ.
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