Political Flap Over Pork-and-Booze Fest Plan Near Greece Refugee Camp

Refugee Camp in Diavata. (Photo by MotionTeam/Fani Tripsani)

ATHENS – Plans by the  Greek anti-refugee nationalist group Enomemoi Makedones (United Macedonia) to hold a pork-and-alcohol barbeque near a refugee and migrant detention camp hosting mostly Muslims led to a furious parliamentary debate over whether it should.

Muslims are forbidden to eat pork or drink alcohol and Christos Yiannoulis, a Member of Parliament from the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said the barbeque would be shameless mocking of the refugees and migrants who came to Greece seeking asylum after fleeing war and strife in their homelands after going to Turkey as a jumping-off point.

The issue became a hot button topic on social media as well, drawing in critics and backers of the barbeque as a protest against the presence of more than 78,000 refugees and migrants in the country, including more than 33,700 on islands where Turkey let human traffickers send them during an essentially-suspended 2016 swap deal with the European Union, which had shut its borders to them.

Yiannoulis charged that extremists were threatening to invite people outside shelters housing asylum seekers and irregular migrants in order to roast pork meats, sausages and drink beer and mock the people inside, Greek media reports said.

Yiannoulis, a previous news reader for the state-run television station in Thessaloniki said he was unaware if the current criminal code covers such actions, “which are shameful for any reasonable person… every citizen, every progressive Greek should condemn this as sadism, as a brutality… against people of a specific religion.”

He was referring to an online call by the group to hold the barbeque outside the Diavata facility near Thessaloniki.

But New Democracy lawmaker Kostas Kyranakis from the ruling party said there was no prohibition against the event and said that, “…I’d like to remind my colleague that the consumption of pork in Greece is allowed, and under certain conditions the consumption of alcohol, too.

“A third country national cannot come here and impose his conditions, and your statement, Mr. Yiannoulis, is unacceptable, because it restricts, based on your own language, rights that every Greek citizen enjoys. Why should such rights to (food) consumption and lifestyle, which Greek citizens enjoy, be restricted because some third country nationals arrived here? What’s the reasoning behind this?” he asked, said Naftemporiki.

Similar protest barbeques that draw few backers are annually held by atheist groups on Good Friday during a time when the Greek Orthodox faithful are supposed to fast and stay away from meat during the lent period.

Giannoulis said while the barbeque wouldn’t violate any laws that it was a “disgrace” and a “provocation against people of other beliefs.”

He called for the organizers to be held accountable for this “new type of political and criminal behavior,” he said was unacceptable.

As of October this year, around 55,000 immigrants have arrived in Greece from Turkey, with some 40,000 said to have come in the last four months after New Democracy ousted SYRIZA in July 7 snap elections.