Black-clad protesters tear down divisive red 'Satan' statue in Athens

Black-clad protesters in Athens, Greece have torn down a controversial winged red sculpture that critics have likened to a statue of Satan.

The eight metre-high sculpture named 'Phylax', meaning 'guardian' in Greek, was erected in December, in the coastal suburb of Palaio Faliro, but has seen protests from locals, religious conservatives and far-right sympathisers,. Demonstrators have attempted to exorcise the statue with holy water, doused it in white paint and spat at it. On Wednesday, it was completely torn down from its pedestal after 10-15 hooded protesters tied it to a truck and drove away, local mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis told Real FM.

Paleo Faliro MunicipalityThe 'Phylax' statue by Kostas Georgiou has been the target of protests.

Hatzidakis has filed a lawsuit for the 'severe' damages done; the statue's wings have been broken. He asked: 'So, if we don't like something we destroy it...for political purposes?'

Parish priest Patapios Argyros previously wrote in an open letter to the mayor: 'The sculpture is a demon and a soldier of Satan that, instead of being honoured, must be despised as blasphemous to the Holy Trinity.

'It is an affront to Orthodoxy and the Christian faith.' The priest led 100 parishoners in a protest around the statue, sprinkling holy water on it.

The sculpture's renowned artist Kostis Georgiou said that the fallen statue has now been transferred to a safe location. 'All this violence against the sculpture since the first moment it was installed has left me speechless,' he told Reuters. 'It should remain down on the ground as a memorial of the irrational rationale.'

Additional reporting by Reuters