Melbourne's Macedonian community has been shocked by a spree of violent and racist graffiti sprayed onto its community buildings. Tension between Melbourne's Greek and Macedonian communities has been high in recent weeks, as their governments try to resolve a decades-old dispute over the Republic of Macedonia's name. The city's Greek community marched in protest of the issue last month, and on Sunday the Macedonian community took to Melbourne's CBD to stage their own rally.
Members of the Lalor United Sloga Football Club, in Melbourne's north, said they were stunned to find anti-Macedonian racial slurs and the phrase "death to you all" graffitied onto their club building on Monday morning. Club committee member Sash Nikolovski said his five-year-old son played at the club. "I was actually quite shocked, I didn't realise anything like that would occur at a place that has in excess of 350 junior kids," he said. "Politics should never be part of sport at all.
We're there to enjoy playing a nice game of football … we all want to see our children have a bit of a run around. Graffiti on the brick fence of the Macedonian Orthodox Church of St Nikola in Preston, Victoria, saying "f**k Skopje". PHOTO: The Macedonian Orthodox Church of St Nikola was also targeted with the words "f*** Skopje". (Supplied) "We don't want to see that sort of terminology and vandalism put all over the walls of the club. It's just unfortunate." Graffiti 'barbarism' Graffiti also appeared at the Macedonian Orthodox Church of St Nikola in Preston saying "f*** Skopje", a reference to the Republic of Macedonia's capital city.
Father Mile Taleski from the church said the vandalism was monstrous and divisive. "We've got parishioners coming here, we've got kids — most of their friends are Greek — what should we explain to those little kids," he said. "I was in awe, not understanding how we can explain this to the younger generation … this vandalism only shows barbarism and disgrace. "Whoever did this has nothing spiritual in them … probably they wanted to create tensions … or increase the tension." The community said it had reported the incidents to the police and local council workers have been clearing the graffiti away. There were also reports of similar displays of anti-Greek sentiment at the weekend rally. Stop death dogs graffiti on a wall at the Lalor United Sloga Football Club. PHOTO: Club committee member Sash Nikolovski was "shocked" by the graffiti. (Facebook: Lalor United Sloga Football Club ) Peter Iassonides, the national coordinator of the Pan-Macedonian Federation of Australia, which represents the Greek community from the Macedonia region of northern Greece, strongly condemned the actions.
"We are respectful of other people's property and in this instance, other people's places of worship," he said. "There's no place in a democratic society, there's no place in a multicultural society for things like this to be taking place, there has to be respect, mutual respect." He said the defacement of flags and places of worship was at odds with the spirit of multiculturalism and he would ask the state's Multicultural Commission to intervene. "[To] ask if they can mediate, to organise a meeting between the two so we can discuss [it]," Mr Iassonides said. "So at least we're on the same page when it comes to such violence, the burning of flags and that sort of stuff."