Monday, December 8, 2008

Anarchy in the birthplace of democracy

The irony of anarchy in Greece, the birthplace of Western democracy, is not lost on anyone. Rioting by young people has spread across the country from the major cities of Athens, where the police shooting of a 15-year-old on Saturday sparked the escalating unrest, and Thessaloniki. As of Monday, 34 civilians and 16 police officers have been injured in the rioting, which has destroyed homes, government buildings and offices of the ruling conservative party in Athens, according to Cable News Network (CNN). "We've just lost count of how many demonstrations are taking place now," a police spokesman told CNN. Prime Minster Kostas Karamanlis condemned the violence in a nationally televised speech and promised to punish those responsible for Saturday's shooting. The violence erupted immediately after the shooting, which police said occurred as disaffected young people -- called the "known-unknowns" in Greece -- attacked a police car with stones, CNN said. A police statement said the young man who was killed was attempting to throw a firebomb, but many observers disputed the official account. Two police officers have been arrested in connection with the shooting. On Monday, demonstrators barricaded streets and threw gasoline bombs at riot police in the two largest cities. The Karamanlis government, which holds a bare one-vote majority in Greek's parliament, could fall if citizens grow frustrated over its inability to control the violent demonstrations. The U.S. and British embassies have already warned employees and tourists to avoid downtown Athens and other major cities.

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