Friday, 5 May 2006

Unity against Pride

Omonoia means "togetherness", "concord", "agreement", "accord", "peace", "amity" and "unity". The graffiti written over the football/politics graffiti attempts to subvert the original expression of the Omonoia tag (and indeed of the "Celtic Crosses" or "Odin's Crosses" used in its subversion) in the promotion of "white pride".

I was confident that I had deciphered the codes accurately when I saw the developing conversations of graffiti around the town contextualise their writers' icons, but I was only certain when I happened upon the Sunday Mirror's 26th of February 2006 article looking, "inside the sick world of Nazi Brits". (Sometimes, in turn, these crosses are themselves crossed out or "Xed out" by their political rivals.)

As the Anti-Defamation League's database of extremist symbols, logos and tattoos details, this cross is "one of the most popular symbols for neo-Nazis and white supremacists".

First popularized by the Ku Klux Klan, the symbol was later adopted by the National Front in England and other racists such as Don Black on his Web site, Stormfront, and the racist band Skrewdriver to represent international "white pride".
(Ironically, then (if unsurprisingly), this nationalist call to arms is foreign.)

To contextualise the subversion of the football graffiti, as one Omonoia football team fan site, Trifillara, explains, in 1948, as the Greek Civil War raged on, "this state of affairs was also passed to Cyprus and infiltrated not only its political life, but also sports".

This politicisation consisted of "the suppression of democratic athletes, the violation of their dignity, and even their expulsion by their athletic clubs", unless they "sign[ed] 'statements' of renunciation of their belie[f]s, abandonment of their democratic ideology and complete subjugation".

Most of the democratic athletes and footballers did not give in the blackmail. With pride, courage and bravery they didn't sign the "statements", something that resulted in either their disqualification or their parting from various athletic clubs.
So, in 1948, Nea Salamina, Alki, Orpheas and Omonoia were established, where those players driven out of the other clubs because of their liberal, multicultural beliefs were more secure; sadly, in 2006, the battle against the extremists or Ultras continues and the supporters of community unity are still threatened by the advocates of nationalist pride.

Partly because the common icons of the groups has informed my work (English/British nationalists' symbols known elucidating Greek/Cypriot nationalist symbols seen), partly because the results of the UK's local elections so far have proved disappointing and partly because the icons' commonality between groups is not merely coincidental, but demonstrative of an underlying association and the truth that the nationalists pose the same threat in Cyprus and in the UK, I think it's worth including a related note.

Equally sadly, in 2006, the extremists'/Ultras' counterparts in Britain, the British National Party (BNP) and others, also still threaten not only the minority communities they persecute more or less openly, but anyone who believes in unity, peace and democracy. (Like the Ultras and others, the BNP's and its allies' members, too, engage in football hooliganism.)

As Searchlight demonstrate, the British National Party (BNP) is racist and Nazi and its beliefs and actions attack those of the democracy that they falsely claim to defend. The BNP already had some council seats (albeit a suitably belittling 20 out of 22,000), but it has been capitalising on post-9/11 fears and insecurities to spread its message of hate.

The BNP has already gained 12 seats and may gain more, possibly doubling its presence [update: it has more than doubled its seats, to 44]; still, it will be embarrassingly small [it is], but each and every vote lends a fake credibility and a false legitimacy to this most undesirable of forces.

Thankfully, others are beating the bounds to free a space for peace. People are working towards community unity (and) against nationalist pride.

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