ELAM Political Party 'Incites Racial Violence' - UC
The new political party People's National Front (ELAM - pictured right) is an organisation that "incites racial violence," said a spokesman for the bi-communal NGO United Cyprus platform.
"It is an issue. One could very well put forward the position that an organization that incites racial violence should be banned based on current legislation," said Christos Efthymiou.
But banning the far-right nationalist party would run "the risk of creating more sympathy for them," he added.
"ELAM have recently tried to be more “political” in what they put forward trying to avoid being considered as violating the law," he said.
The key would be to "build a well organized mass movement against racism and xenophobia that will be able to practically show that they (ELAM) are a marginal organization acting against the will of society," said Efthymiou.
This mass movement is essential to bring all sectors of society face-to-face with "their obligation to put a hold on the spread of racism before it's too late!" said Efthymiou.
Meanwhile, spokesman for ELAM Christodoulos Ioannides aggressively warned other political parties to "keep on being nervous and anxious" of them, referring to resistance from traditional parties to ELAM's party status which was only recently approved by the Attorney-general.
ELAM's official position is that Cyprus is Greek, and the party is opposed to a federal solution. It is also against Turkey joining the EU, according to messages on its website. The party is deadset against political asylum seekers and illegal migrants, and its members often rally at night in Larnaca, dressed all in black and waving Greek flags. The party names notorious right-wing, anti-immigrant movement Chrysi Avgi as one of its partners, and its communications are bitterly racist, harping on a xenophobic and anti-political asylum theme, such as this excerpt translated from a text on their website:
"Immigrants were secretly transferred (by the government) to Agapinor Hotel in Pafos. We emphasise that this is a 3-star hotel, recently renovated, with many extras. We hope that this time they will have a jacuzzi, satellite and all presidential luxuries, to avoid repeating the facts we had long ago in a hotel in Larnaca, where the foreigners were not satisfied with the services provided by the hotel...You can see all the luxuries which the aliens can enjoy at the hotel. If you who are reading this article do not have these luxuries at home then you too make an application to become a political refugee."
ELAM has published an article condemning Turkish-Cypriot buses which take tourists to Larnaca Airport, saying that "we see that all the political parties remain apathetic towards our "brothers" the Turkish Cypriots". All they care about is stopping the People's National Front. On May 22nd, make their fears come true, vote Nationalist."
According to most observers, the rise of ultra-nationalist and xenophobic sentiment is a phenomenon seen amid increasingly more difficult economic circumstances and historically high unemployment rates. Whether the political system is sophisticated enough to handle the economy and keep in check such an obvious hate-mongering party remains to be seen in the coming months.