As right-wing nationalism rises throughout Europe and the former Soviet bloc, the dividing line between who is acceptable to these extremists—and who isn't—is becoming clearer by the day. Muslims, Jews, anyone in the LGBT community? You know where you stand. But now, vegans can join the crowd—you too are doomed, if the rising tide of fascists have their way.
This vegan versus meat-eater dichotomy became quite clear last weekend when the Kiwi Café, a vegan restaurant located in the historic center of Tbilisi, Georgia, was attacked by meat-wielding ultranationalists. The café, known for its support of the LGBT community and its popularity among tourists, had just begun a screening of Rick and Morty, the animated sci-fi TV show helmed by Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, when a group of people—whom the Kiwi Café identified as "neo-Nazis" and "participants in the 'Bergmann' movement, who support fascist ideas"—entered the café and began to disrupt the show. The Bergmann name may come from a group of Georgian soldiers who fought for Germany in World War II in a unit called the Bergmann Battalion.
We'll let the owners of the café describe the scene, in words they posted on their Facebook page: "Continuing to act loudly and disturbingly, they pulled out some grilled meat, sausages, fish and started eating them and throwing them at us."
The meat fight escalated when locals began to join in the melee, a knife was flashed, and a woman was taken "by her hair and pushed to the asphalt with her face toward the ground. Then the fight started on the street." The police were called but the meat-wielding thugs had fled. Minor injuries were reported.
The café reported that the same group had come to the neighborhood earlier in the month and inquired of locals whether the café served gay people. Unfortunately, according to the café personnel, when the meat fling broke out, the locals were more sympathetic to the thugs than to the café clientele. The police reportedly also told the café workers that they were "guilty of what had happened."
Nationalists in Georgia have been marching in the streets of late, promoting their platform of "Georgians for Georgia." Nationalism has plagued Georgia for decades but recently, violence against the LGBT community has been escalating, with a gay pride parade being disrupted in 2013 following violent threats and spray-painted Nazi swastikas and racist slogans.
Now vegans can join the club. But the people behind Kiwi Café say they are standing strong and are "ready to accept all customers regardless of their nationality, race, appearance, age, gender, sexual orientation, or religious views."
If you wish to visit the cafe, just be sure to duck when you see the meat flying in the direction of your head. Hang strong, Kiwi Café.