Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

We ignore Elam at our peril

Supporters carrying Greek flags should be barred from football matches

Elam has turned the ‘nationalist’ football clubs into nurseries for fascism

By George Koumoullis

In mature democracies, the recent statement by Elam that “it is possible we will opt to answer in a military way and could enforce an unorthodox political war” would have caused seismic shocks in the government, the legislature and academic circles etc. How else could this statement be taken to mean other than as a warning of a coup?

Elam is certainly being original because prospective coupists do not announce their plans in advance since they lose the element of surprise necessary for a successful outcome. Bearing in mind what we have suffered in Cyprus, the silence greeting this statement by the legislature, the parties and especially the attorney-general was extremely disheartening even though Elam is in no position, at least at present, to fulfil its wishes. The blatant threat of putting Cyprus in a new tunnel of darkness, terror and blood not only failed to trigger a police investigation but it upset nobody’s sleep.

Elam’s threat raises the issue of confronting the rise of fascism which is rearing its ugly face not just in Cyprus and Greece but the whole of Europe. When there are parties that are openly anti-democratic, hostile to basic freedoms and which envisage replacement of the democratic system with a dictatorship, it is only natural for the public to worry. In Cyprus the cause for concern is much greater because a possible collapse of democracy would mean the elimination of Hellenism from the island.

This is why many suggest that extremist parties opposed to democracy such as Elam should be outlawed in the national interest. In supporting this position, they cite the dilemma faced by the Weimar Republic which did not take any measures against the Nazi party because it was not violating the law. If, however, Hitler’s party had been outlawed, the bloodiest war ever experienced, World War II, may have been avoided.

In our country, the fascist party Elam is the only party that endorses the actions of the Greek Junta. We should all be obliged to know – especially the young – that all the political problems we face today are the rotten fruit of the dictatorial catastrophe that wrecked the Greek state, internationally humiliated Hellenism and finally tragically and criminally betrayed Cyprus.

There is also the other school of thought which claims it is inconceivable in a democracy to outlaw a party when it operates within the boundaries of the law. This is a stonewall argument: it would be a monumental paradox if the polity resorted to undemocratic methods to protect democracy. Apart from this, banning a party creates the danger of it engaging in illegal actions that could give rise to terrorism with unforeseeable consequences.

Political analysts attribute the rise of fascism mainly to economic deprivation, immigration and globalisation. None of this applies to Cyprus where it is primarily football that breeds fascism. The spectacle we witness in Cyprus stadiums when ‘nationalist’ football clubs are playing is no sport but an amalgam of football and the display of national and Nazi symbols. In a normal state football clubs belong neither to the Left nor the Right but to sport.

In the last 20 to 25 years, the supporters of the ‘nationalist’ clubs have taken up the habit, encouraged by some parties, to take Greek flags into football grounds. The identification of the Greek flag with one club creates the impression that the supporters of the opponent team are lesser or non-Greeks compared to the fans waving the Greek flag. Gradually the conviction that those holding the holy symbol of the nation are the ‘super-Hellenes’ becomes established in the brains of young supporters and this is the introduction to intolerance and fascism. Elam’s seizure of young football fans is completed with the brandishing of fascist symbols such as the swastika, which in other countries is banned from being displayed in football grounds.

What an embarrassment we suffered last October when at the Eintracht Frankfurt – Apollonas match supporters of the Cyprus club were arrested by German police because their T-shirts had the SS skull. What a shame. We, the victims of fascism, posing as supporters of the Nazis.

It is blatantly obvious that Elam has turned the ‘nationalist’ clubs into nurseries for fascism. If the supporters, aged between 14 and 17, were asked ‘what party would you vote for when you are eligible to vote?’ there is little doubt that the overwhelming majority would answer ‘Elam’. This is why we should not be surprised if in the European Parliament elections in May Elam’s share of the vote reaches double digits or in a decade it becomes one of the large parties.

In view of these bleak prospects, supporters carrying Greek flags should be barred from football matches, not only for the reasons mentioned above, but also for the sake of national dignity. It is impermissible to denigrate the most sacred symbol of the nation by allowing hooligans and thugs to use it in the name of football allegiances.

George Koumoullis is an economist and social scientist

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