A city official says the mayor of Greece’s second-largest city has been hospitalized with head, back and leg injuries after being set upon by nationalist.
Thessaloniki City Council President Calypso Goula said Mayor Yiannis Boutaris was attending a flag-lowering ceremony Saturday in commemoration of the so-called “Pontic Genocide,” the killing of ethnic Greeks by the Turks during World War I and the subsequent Greek-Turkish war. Apparently over his close ties to the Jewish community.
He has pushed for the construction of an Islamic mosque in the city, along with monuments honoring Turkish leaders such as Ataturk. He persuaded Turkish Airlines to begin flying directly from Istanbul to Thessaloniki, resulting in a huge surge in tourists.
He is the force behind the city’s new Holocaust museum, a “beacon against racism and fascism,” he said earlier this month in Berlin. He has offered up LGBTQ-friendly
The European Commission has praised Boutaris as a “beacon” who has crafted an “island of hope” and “model for all of Greece.
Boutaris, an advocate for multiculturalism, is a frequent target of the far-right in Greece, who have called him “a slave of the Jews.”
The neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party called the attack “popular rage” against his support of Turkey.
A local photographer who witnessed the attack on Boutaris told Al Jazeera that people at the ceremony “started to shout at him for his opinion on the Macedonian dispute, the LBGTQI community, Turkey, and [nationalist] football clubs.”
He added that: “Some people were shouting about Jews because he has had [a] close relationship with the Jewish community over the years.”