By Maria Gregoriou
A TAVERN in the Aglandjia suburb of Nicosia has become the target of threats and ‘hate mail’ after a kitten was allegedly hit and kicked onto the road after jumping on a table in the establishment while customers were present.
The story spread like wildfire on social media, and a protest has been organised for tonight at 9.30pm outside the restaurant – Steki tou Kosti tavern.
According to Facebook yesterday, over 1,000 people will participate.
Aside from the protest, some of the threats posted on the web include wanting to tie the alleged culprit to a car and drag him until he died, beating him until he died, putting him in the electric chair and cutting his hands off.
The incident with the kitten took place on July 26 in front of around 30 customers at the tavern, according to reports, which got back to Andrea Barlow, the organiser of the protest, which she says is intended to be peaceful.
Barlow said the cat was hit with a cane after it jumped on one of the tables. “The kitten fell and broke its spine…a waiter then kicked it into the road and a car ran over it. Whether the kitten died because of the abuse or because of the car is not clear,” Barlow said.
She said two women found the incident so upsetting that they got up and left the tavern and posted their experience on internet blogs. The Lykavitos police station has also received a complaint and is aware of the situation, it said.
One of the owners of the tavern, Demetris Georgiades, updated a statement on the establishment’s Facebook page on July 29 apologising for the incident.
Speaking on behalf of the three owners, Georgiades said: “We are truly sorry for the unfortunate incident that took place at our tavern on July 26. None of the three owners were at the tavern on that night and we found out about it the next day.”
He said they had immediately fired the alleged offender – the waiter. He did not address the allegation that it was an old man with a cane, said to be father of the owners, who had first hit the cat before the waiter kicked it into the road. He was not one of the actual owners, the post said.
Georgiades said the tavern’s owners condemned the incident but also believed that the matter was blown out of proportion. “We would like to make it clear that we are animal lovers. We are family men with children who have pets at home,” he said. He said the kitten in question was confirmed to still be alive and in good health. “Anyone wishing to verify this may come and see for themselves,” said Georgiades.
But the apology was to no avail. By then readers were incensed and an armchair lynch mob was in full swing.
A post that went viral shows a picture of an upside down white cross on a black background with the words: ‘At the Steki tou Kosti tavern in Aglandjia Nicosia, animals are killed. Spread the word and react!’
The picture is accompanied by a post saying: “We cannot make murderers and sick people love animals, but we can make them respect them.” It ends with: “Guess what sucker: we will close you down.”
Other comments across the web included: “If I had the old man in-front of me now I would break his face, then I would tie him to my car and drag him until he died.”
“I hope the protest shuts down the tavern. I hope they beat him up so he can see what it feels like,” another commentator said.
“I wonder why someone didn’t take a cane and beat him until he died, just like he did to the kitten,” said another.
“Wasn’t there one person there? Just one person there to cut off his hands?” wrote another.
“He deserves the electric chair and may he go to hell, the horseshit of society,” another said.
Georgiades’ post had asked people desist with the threats and insults. “The various allegations against us in different blogs are unjust and affect each one of us individually so we kindly ask that they be stopped,” he said.
According to sources close to the family yesterday, they have sought legal advice and will be taking certain individuals who have threatened them to court.
Asked about the backlash, Barlow said: “If the family is receiving threats then that is unacceptable”. When asked about Georgiades claims that the kitten was still alive and well, Barlow said this was simply proof that the incident did actually happen.
“The protest [tonight] is a message to other people who are doing this kind of things. Since the announcement has gone out, many people have come forward with names of people or describing similar incidents around the island,” Barlow said.
Barlow continued by saying that the protest was not a personal attack against whoever allegedly beat and kicked the cat.
“The protest is about the respect for life and giving animals their rights. Cyprus has laws against animal violence but they are not being put in place so we will start at the tavern and proceed to the police headquarters to ask the police to take action,” Barlow added.
Barlow and the sources close to the family both said the municipality should take action to control the cat population.
“If the population is at a reasonable amount, then the cats will be fed and will not jump on tables to find food. Violence towards them will be limited and both us (animal lovers) and tavern owners’ will be much happier,” Barlow said.
Protesters will meet at meeting points market out on the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/164064773777614/ at 7.15pm. From there they will walk to the tavern and then head to the police headquarters