Protesters tear down red-winged 'Satan' statue in Athens

Protesters tear down red-winged 'Satan' statue in Athens
By Emma Beswick
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The mayor of the municipality told Euronews the Phylax artwork had been “severely damaged,” with its wings broken and its head smashed off.


Demonstrators dressed head-to-toe in black pulled down and vandalised a red statue in southern Athens whose critics said looked like the devil.

The eight-metre-high sculpture's head was knocked off and its wings damaged.

Named Phylax or “guardian” in Greek, the statue has been at the heart of multiple acts of protest, which saw critics throwing white paint and spitting at it.

Some 100 parishioners from a Palaio Faliro church in the south of Athens even performed an exorcism on the statue with a priest sprinkling holy water on the artwork.

Mayor of Palaio Faliro Dionysis Hatzidakis told Euronews that around 15 hooded people tied ropes around the sculpture, pulling it down and breaking its wings.

"It has been severely damaged,” he said.

A local parish priest had previously written an open letter to Hatzidakis in which he described the statue as “a demon and a soldier of Satan that, instead of being honoured, must be despised as blasphemous to the holy trinity”.

Local daily Kathimerini reported that a man running a kiosk near the seaside park where the sculpture was displayed saw the incident and reported it to authorities.

The perpetrators also allegedly threatened the kiosk owner when he "berated them for their act of vandalism".

The Greek Culture Ministry condemned the statue's destruction:

“Freedom of expression and creativity are fundamental prerequisites of every democracy. Public dialogue, peaceful disagreement and the dialectical relationship between opposites are fundamental pillars of the Greek civilization and have been bequeathed to all humanity,” it said in a statement.

The ministry also pledged to protect the free movement of ideas.

Phylax was created by well-known Greek artist Kostis Georgiou who told that the statue had been transferred to a safe place and that he hoped “the evil shall not prevail”.

“All this violence against the sculpture since the first moment it was installed has left me speechless,” he told Reuters. “It should remain down on the ground as a memorial of the irrational rationale.”

The Chamber of Greek Artists on Thursday issued a statement saying it was “deeply saddened that even a small portion of society can be manipulated by arbitrary interpretations of a work of art.”

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