Street murder highlights Greek hate culture
The mayors of Athens warned against the increase in racist attacks against minorities and immigrants on Thursday (16 August) as Greek authorities continue to round up and arrest undocumented migrants throughout the country.
“When fellow human beings are being stabbed on an almost daily basis, society has to be alert and the state has to lead the perpetrators to justice,” said Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis, reported Greek daily Ekathimerini.
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On Sunday, a 19-year-old Iraqi man died of stab wounds after being attacked by five men in central Athens.
Witnesses told police the gang had attempted to attack a Moroccan and a Romanian but both managed to flee before the five men unleashed their brutality upon the Iraqi.
“Such attacks are unacceptable and the authorities must do all within their power to stem their rise,” deputy Europe and Central Asia programme director at Amnesty International, Jezerca Tigani, said in a statement on Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the UN agency for refugees (UNHCR) in Athens told this website on Friday that the attacks are now almost a daily occurrence.
Those that carry out of the attacks, she said, “work almost undisturbed” as police have failed to convict anyone linked to the violence. Small gangs on motorcycles typically carry out the attacks.
“They [migrants] are really scared to go [and] report and press charges because they may be arrested if they do,” said the spokesperson.
She said police dissuade victims from pressing charges by telling them they have to pay €100. She also noted that victims and witnesses are offered no protection.
In another incident, two Pakistani men were attacked in their home on Sunday evening after being beaten by unidentified men. Both ended up in the hospital.
Fifteen men in motorcycles belonging to an extreme right-wing group, reportedly tossed flares into a prayer room for Muslim worshippers on Thursday in Pireus.
The mayor of Topeiro, near Xanthi, said thugs are now targeting the Muslim community.
“We warn this small group of dangerous, idiotic thugs that we will stand in the way of their plans. We will find them and stop them,” he said.
Greek authorities launched a round up of undocumented migrants earlier this month. The on-going campaign named after the Greek god of hospitality - "Xenius Zeus" – has so far detained around 8,000 people.
Those without proper identification are arrested and deported. Some 1,660 have been arrested and placed in administrative detention, said the Greek police on Wednesday.
A report by the NGO Human Rights Watch out in July documented dozens of attacks against migrants in and around Athens. The NGO recorded 300 assaults in Athens in the first half of 2011. The Athens police, for its part, recorded only 9 incidents of hate crime for the whole of 2011.