Protest has Greek authorities on alert

May 27, 2009 at 1:00 PM

ATHENS, Greece, May 27 (UPI) -- Police and coast guard officials said they were on alert Wednesday in the wake of protests near a Mount Athos monastery.

Kathimerini said the officials were on stand-by in the ancient cities of Ouranoupolis and Ierissos as a result of Tuesday's clash with nearly 35 protesters who attempted to breach a police cordon to reach the Esphigmenou Monastery.

The protesters had been attempting to show their support for the monks, who have refused to leave the monastery since they split from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul in 2002.

The monks were declared schismatic for vehemently opposing the patriarchate's actions and teachings, which the monks believe are in conflict with church law, Kathimerini said.

The Greek newspaper said since the split between the monks and the church, their supporters have attempted to reach the monastery each year. The protest attempt occurs every year before Ascension Day, which is 40 days after Easter.

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