Over 100 Christians in Greece are demanding the removal of a sculpture in the Athens suburb of Palaio Faliro because they believe that the statue symbolizes Lucifer.
On Sunday, residents of Palaio Faliro held Greek flags, icons and sang hymns at the site where the sculpture called "Phylax" stands.
The sculpture, which depicts a red naked man with wings, was created by renowned artist Kostis Georgiou and installed on Dec. 5 near the Palaio Faliro marina in Trokadero, Athens.
According to Neos Kosmos, the statue was commissioned by the Martinos shipping family, who, in turn, donated it to the Palaio Faliro Municipality.
The statue has been vandalized twice since its installation in an apparent response to the Municipality naming it "guardian-angel" of the South Athens suburb. Phylax in ancient Greek means guard, watcher and protector, but Mayor Dionysis Hatzidakis maintained that it does not symbolize the guardian angel as depicted in the Christian faith.
Vandals have reportedly thrown paint at the statue and cut the power to the tram line that powers the sculpture and keeps it illuminated at night.
In an open letter to the mayor, parish priest Patapios Argyros contended that the sculpture depicts a soldier of Satan and has called for its removal.
"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 said.
In an interview with Greek Channel Skai TV, the artist dismissed the assertions that the sculpture is a depiction of Satan.
"Who says that the colour of Satan is red? there are angels with red wings and red hair," Georgiou said.
Georgiou contended that the criticisms against his work were led by "some ultras like the newspaper Eleftheri Ora" and a "hate-preacher" he identified as Fr. Kleomenis. "It is supposed that the opponents are Christians but their soul is anti-Christian," he added.
The artist said that he is surprised at the reactions triggered by the sculpture, and noted that his work is "independent of any approach to religious symbols and emblems."
"Those who condemn it as anti Christ and satanic, are wrong," he said, adding that a similar work that was displayed in Mykonos last summer had not triggered any reaction.
"If they want to demolish, let them do it. If they want to burn it, let them burn it as they were burning books in the past," he said.
Residents of the suburb have been collecting signatures in an attempt to pressure the municipality to remove the sculpture.