Cartoonist cyber-bullied as Greek politics turn sour

Tue Jul 7, 2015 1:44pm EDT
 
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By Dina Kyriakidou

ATHENS (Reuters) - One of Greece's most popular cartoonists has pulled down his Facebook page after what appeared to be a concerted attack by pro-government cyber bullies.

A cartoon published by Arkas last month seemed anodyne enough: a newscaster saying "I have complete trust in the government. It has its feet firmly planted in the clouds."

But in Greece's polarized political climate, this prompted an avalanche of hostile messages. "You exposed yourself irreparably. It will be on your head, you'll see," said one.

The ruling leftist Syriza party, which came to power in January promising to end austerity and stand up to international lenders, denied it was involved.

"Not only we had nothing to do with this but we protested the attack," said Syriza spokeswoman Rania Svingou, adding the party's cyber team had issued a statement supporting the artist.

Such incidents however reveal a new political culture, said Yannis Ktistakis, a professor of human rights at the University of Rodopi in northern Greece.

"These are not just attacks by frustrated unemployed people," he said. "The climate has deteriorated."

As Greece faces economic catastrophe, its people fed up with the sacrifices needed to stay in the euro, a referendum on Sunday split the country, with the government firmly behind the vote to reject more austerity.   Continued...

 
A woman browses the official Facebook page of Greek cartoonist Arkas, which has been restored, in this illustration photo taken in Athens, Greece July 7, 2015. One of Greece's most popular cartoonists has pulled down his Facebook page after what appeared to be a concerted attack by pro-government cyber bullies. A cartoon published by Arkas last month seemed anodyne enough: a newscaster saying "I have complete trust in the government. It has its feet firmly planted in the clouds." REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis