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Victims of September 11

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:14 AM
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The Greek approach to tragedy

Helena Smith in Athens explores why the Greeks seem to have little sympathy for post-attack America

Helena Smith in Athens

Guardian Unlimited

Tuesday September 25, 2001

In the birthplace of democracy, the right to demonstrate is viewed as a hallowed tradition. In the wake of the assault on America, the Greeks have been living up to that time-honoured practice with outbursts of anti-Americanism by protestors who chant that Uncle Sam had it coming.

Last week, around 30,000 Athenian football fans attending a Uefa match against Scotland jeered throughout the minute's silence held in honour of the terror victims. The doughty Scots looked on aghast as the fans then tried to burn the Stars and Stripes in the stalls.

This week, leftist groups and labour organisations will gather in front of the neo-classical fa├žade of Athens University for a rally "against war", although the event is already being billed as another chance to kick American ass.

"What goes round, comes round," says one student, Philippos Papadopoulos, wistfully. "A lot of people died and that's a pity, but the Americans are getting a taste of what they did in Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and the like."

International polls show the Greeks to be by far the least sympathetic of all European nations to post-attack America. Scarcely had the dust settled over the wreckage of the Twin Towers before some were saying the terrorist acts were both understandable and justifiable.

Echoing Papadopoulos, surprising numbers say they see the carnage as a classic case of retribution for all the wrongs committed over the decades by the Superpower.

Of all the Euro-Alliance nations, polls have also shown the Greeks to be the least willing to take any action against countries harbouring terrorists.

Among the many ills that Hellenes cite is America's failure to pressure some 35,000...


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