Mayor Boutaris calls on parties to protect democracy against extremists

Thessaloniki Mayor Yannis Boutaris, who had to be hospitalized after an attack by extreme-right thugs on Saturday, called on all parties to condemn violence and help preserve democratic dialogue and understanding in Monday’s meeting of the municipal council.

Boutaris stressed the need to rally against extremism. “There is no other way: Tomorrow, someone else will be in the same place as me – somebody who will be beaten for his ideas, for his religion, for his different sexual preference, for the color of his skin, for being different,” the mayor stressed.

The mayor was attacked while attending a memorial commemorating the Pontian Greek genocide, and had returned to his office initially, before being admitted to hospital overnight.

The city meeting was attended by members of the public, by Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis, the director of the prime minister’s office in Thessaloniki Katerina Notopoulou, and other mayors, among others. The mayor was given a standing ovation when he walked in and the council meeting opened with a video showing the incident on Saturday.

“Thessaloniki must become the most democratic city in the world. Whoever doesn’t agree with us can vote us down in October 2019; but at elections, not by physical violence or threats,” he said.

Boutaris, who mentioned “he was 75 and would live to be 100,” said that neofascists “have been spreading lies and misinforming people about our work in a systematic and organized way.”

Meanwhile, the three individuals who were arrested on assault and battery charges and remain in custody will be tried at court on Wednesday.