A 43-year-old Greek Cypriot man was arrested on Thursday after he was caught on video kicking a Congolese woman holding her baby, an incident that was universally condemned.

Investigations into the attack started on Wednesday afternoon when the case was reported to the police, a police spokesman told the Cyprus Mail. It appears the assault took place near Larnaca port earlier that day against an asylum seeker from Congo, the officer added without providing further details.

The video, posted on Thursday morning on Twitter by anti-racism activist Dr Christos Hadjioannou, was viewed by over 20,000 in just a few hours.

It showed a man hitting and kicking a woman holding an infant in her arms as they are sitting on the pavement. The same man then attacks a black man who was also there before he again moves towards the woman and kicks her in the back.

Another man, who is also thought to be Greek Cypriot but younger than the suspect, is seen trying to push him away from her.

Media reported the woman is a 29-year-old asylum seeker and was holding her 11-month son. The Congolese man who was also at the scene was reported to be her brother.

After the attack, the woman visited the hospital to be examined.

Police said the 43-year-old was arrested in the district around noon on Thursday for offences related to violating certain forms and expressions of the racism and xenophobia law, and the prevention and combatting of all forms of violence against women act while he is also being investigated for assault causing actual bodily harm, public insult and threat.

Attorney General Giorgos Savvides tweeted later in the morning that he had communicated with the chief of police “who assured that a criminal investigation is underway in relation to the incident.”

The attack incited a social media uproar, while officials and other bodies also condemned the assault.

“The unacceptable beating of a woman in Larnaca causes sadness and intense disgust,” House President Annita Demetriou tweeted.

She added that such “intense incidents involving racism, intolerance and gender violence” had no place in a state with a rule of law. “We will not stop fighting… to eradicate them,” Demetriou said.

In a statement later in the day, ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottidou said that, in investigating this case, authorities must immediately activate the protocols relating to assault motivated by racism to bring the relevant charge against the suspect.


The ombudswoman added that the video of the incident serves as a “challenge for Cypriot society… dealing with phenomena of racism and bigotry directed against groups of the population who fall outside the stereotypes of what is ‘normal’, or ‘usual’ or ‘acceptable’.”

For their part, the House human rights committee criticised gender-based and racial violence and said they will follow developments on the case.

Equality commissioner Josephine Antoniou also called on the police to immediately investigate the incident, saying the video is “shocking” and “degrades Cyprus and our culture.”

Non-profit organisation ‘generation for change Cy’, who also shared the video, said the man knew the woman as he had previously sold her a car, that was later found to have problems.

“It was reported to us that the woman had bought a car from the perpetrator after being reassured that the car had no issues. However, after the payment, the car had some problems, and the woman took the car to the mechanic to confirm the car’s condition, whereby the mechanic informed her that the car actually had several problems.  “

When the woman told the perpetrator about the car’s issues, the NGO said, he refused to discuss any possible solutions and told her that “nothing could be done to him” in his country and proceeded to attack her.

“We strongly condemn all acts of violence, including acts of violence against the most vulnerable people of our society,” they added, calling on authorities to take action.

Pogo, the Akel-affiliated women’s organisation said the video shows the “racist and sexist violence of a Greek Cypriot man against migrants,” explaining such behaviours stem from institutional racism.

Hadjioannou described the violence as a racial attack. He suggested it was motivated by a “belief of racial superiority” and sarcastically added “the state should step in and hold their babies while we beat them.”

“We can’t stand any more black immigrant women with babies, we are forced to beat them,” the activist added.

Responding to a comment, he said that such incidents happen often, but “only sometimes someone has the courage to record them.”