Greece takes it out on immigrants

Bloody attacks against minorities have spiked as Golden Dawn rises

Immigrants in the crosshairs

Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP

A year ago, Musta Amid paid human traffickers to smuggle him to Greece over the Turkish border—the most porous in Europe. “All I want is to work,” said the 19-year-old Nigerian, sitting on a commuter train bound for Athens, where he sells handmade crafts. A Greek in his twenties, sitting nearby, apparently angered by his story, interjected: “Why should you monkeys have work when I don’t? I’ve been unemployed for a year. This is my country and if anyone should have work, it should be me.” The conversation on the suburban train, as it whizzed past an endless stream of graffiti supporting Hrisi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, Greece’s extreme-right party, emboldened a tough-looking, elderly man. “The Turks should’ve drowned you like rats,” he snarled. “Greece is for Greeks. Get out and take everyone like you with you. Golden Dawn will show you the way with a kick in the ass!”

Two years ago, blatantly racist outbursts like these would have been inconceivable in Greece. But the economic crisis has given rise to a dangerous new form of nationalism—and Golden Dawn, which captured its first seat on Athens city council two years ago, is perfectly placed to take advantage. In June, the once-marginal extremist party won 18 parliamentary seats in Greece’s general election. It campaigned against austerity measures and immigration—what the party spokesperson calls a government conspiracy to turn Greece into a “wretched protectorate inhabited by subhumans with no conscience, no country and no national culture.”

Such statements contribute to the marked increase in violence and intimidation directed at Greece’s immigrants. In a recent report, Human Rights Watch warned that xenophobic violence in Greece has reached “alarming proportions,” and accused Greek authorities of doing nothing to stop the attacks.

Golden Dawn’s success is due in no small part to Greece’s desperate financial straits. In the last quarter, gross domestic product shrank by more than six per cent from 2011; the unemployment rate for Greeks under 25 now tops 54 per cent. Some Greek youth, like Stefanos Stavropoulos, a former security guard who lives in Athens, are looking to Golden Dawn—whose members are known to make Nazi salutes at rallies—for answers. “If we don’t take care of our own, who will?” says the 26-year-old. Golden Dawn’s “Greece for Greeks” policy makes sense to Stavropoulos, now a party member. His mentor within the party, Christos, a senior military officer who refused to give his last name, blames undocumented migrants—a “virus,” he calls them—for giving “birth” to the economic crisis. For Christos, the solution is simple: “Get rid of the immigrants, and you solve the economic problem.”

Yet Golden Dawn is not alone in politicizing Greece’s immigration debate. The minister for public order, Nikos Dendias, is promising to crack down on undocumented migrants, whom he describes as being part of an “invasion,” and “a bomb at the foundations of society.” Dendias gives extremist groups the “green light to attack at will,” says Cleopatra Lambessis-Vrettos, a 65-year-old retired teacher. Vrettos abhors the violent behaviour and nationalist slogans of Greek extremists. “They’re bullies and they’re taking advantage of the present economic situation,” she says. “But,” she says, “we can’t deny that there is a problem. We have an immigrant problem and we are sinking under the weight of incompetence from our leaders and the EU.”

In some Athens neighbourhoods, where the government is failing to provide social services and security, Golden Dawn hands out bread, milk and dried goods to those hurt by the economic crisis—as long as they’re Greek nationals, with the ID to prove it. The step may be unnecessary; by now, immigrants know to steer clear of Golden Dawn’s black shirts and swastika-like emblem, which they are coming to associate with intimidation and violence. In a video that went viral last week, Golden Dawn MP Giorgos Germenis leads a group of men through a night market, requesting permits from vendors and, at one point, toppling a stall and scattering merchandise. “We noticed some illegal immigrants trying to sell their stuff without the appropriate licences. Then we did what Golden Dawn must do,” Germenis said.

Anna Avloniti, a recently widowed 72-year-old, praises “the boys,” and prays for their safety each night as she lights a sacred oil lamp. Avloniti lives in a beautiful neoclassical building in Athens’s Agios Panteleimonas neighbourhood. Growing up, she says, the neighbourhood “was clean and everyone knew each other—it was safe. Now, it’s filthy and dangerous.” She points to the corner where several visible minorities stand among bins overflowing with garbage conducting what she suspects are drug deals. “Would you want to walk past them to buy a loaf of bread?”

Voters like Avloniti are either unaware of, or choose to justify Golden Dawn’s darker, more violent side. Several Golden Dawn MPs have been charged with a range of violent crimes, from armed robbery to assault, while rights groups claim the party’s sympathizers have been inspired and emboldened by political support for their anti-immigrant position.

Swarms of young, masked men on motorcycles carrying clubs and chains now roam the streets at night in neighbourhoods heavily populated by immigrants. In August, a 19-year-old Iraqi was stabbed and killed by a gang on motorcycles in full view of Parliament. Bloody attacks have become an almost daily occurrence. Daphne Kapetanaki, a protection associate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, says many of the attacks go unreported for fear of retaliation. Some undocumented migrants are afraid of being arrested and deported. Some claim the perpetrators are police officers. Former police union leader Dimitris Kyriazidis accuses police of turning “a blind eye to extreme-right groups affiliated to Golden Dawn, which are running amok across the country.”

Mohammad, a 34-year-old from Bangladesh who would only give his first name, is terrified. “I’m afraid to leave my house,” he says. One night last spring, some young Greek men grabbed his friend from a bus stop and forced him into their vehicle. They beat him, then threw him from the car.

Mohammad has been in Athens illegally for six years, working at a vegetarian café downtown. “Each day, I take a different route to work,” he says. “I can’t go back home and I can’t go forward, so I stay here hoping I will one day become legal.” Shortly after the interview, Mohammad was detained, said his boss at the café, Iradj Shakib. He was rounded up under a government raid of undocumented immigrants—the Zeus Xenios program, named for the Greek god of hospitality.




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Greece takes it out on immigrants

  1. God bless. Golden dawn

  2. Im sick of hearing left wing garbage from countrie s and people that have no idea what Greeks are going through, and your report fails to mention that these people are ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS I REPEAT ILLEGAL, but i guess the truth doesnt matter in your little story.

    Golden Dawn bravo paidia.

    • 1. You can obviously not read: “Mohammad has been in Athens illegally for six years”
      2 Not everyone is here ilegally and many, very many are not imigrants but refugees, are you familiar with the difference?
      3 We live in Greec, and we know very well what is going on, so please do not speak for the people who live here, because there are 100ds of thousands who disagree with killing , stabbing and destroying someone because of teh colour of their skin.

  3. Golden Dawn good. Macleans media liars bad.

    Say, dinglebert: if Greece is so awful and racist and violent against invaders…why do thousands upon thousands keep trying to get in?

    BTW, as the writer-liar well knows, the attacks on illegal aliens are almost always carried out by…other illegal aliens. Yeah.

    • “if Greece is so awful and racist and violent against invaders…why do thousands upon thousands keep trying to get in?”

      1. Sheer desperation is a possibility.

      2. More seriously, most illegal migrants entered Greece hoping to get into the wider European Union. They don’t, and instead remain stuck inside Greece.

  4. Silly golden dawn, what are you doing in Greece? Surely you should be shagging goats in pentagrams in Leamington Spa while trying to summon Baal.

  5. Golden Dawn are the saviours of Greece

  6. Thanks Stavroula for information and by below comments you can see how much hate has been spread in Greece, instead of looking at fact everyone is just blaming to immigrants, let me tell you another fact those are illegal immigrants, they cant get a loan from bank so who did it? who emptied there banks? if you check most of people have to pay bank loans,

    I dont blame all Greeks but people with less intelligence always exists in all nations and they dont learn there lessons from history rather they just repeat it. i am not a left-wing supporter either but what Golden Dawn is doing, is inhumanity.

    Those thugs has really brain washed people specially the young once, the sooner people understand the better, otherwise remember it always starts from weak ( in this case poor immigrants ) and your number will also come.

    I just wish people can open there eyes soon before its too late..

  7. Being against illegal immigration doesn’t justify Golden Dawn. They are openly and blatantly neo-Nazi. Back in 87, Golden Dawn’s leader Michaloliakos was writing pro-Hitler articles in Golden Dawn magazine, including the salute “Heil Hitler” and all. Yes the same Nazis who killed thousands of Greeks during WWII and stole the nation’s treasure (which was not returned by Germany until now – although promised – and currently amounts to almost the total of Greece’s debt). Now 8-9 percent of Greeks support Golden Dawn? Is there any lower life form on earth? Greeks always find a way to sink deeper, to become rezili!

  8. You know, Golden Dawn could win the next election, form a government, declare martial law, eject every immigrant — legal or illegal –, and still Greece would find itself in the same predicament that it is in now.

    Actually, no; it would be worse. Greece would also be an international pariah – with absolutely no help from abroad. No funding, no investment, no tourism. Who would come to a country whose governing party sports a flag with a barely disguised Swastika? Never mind visitors, what thinking person would want to live in a country where goons patrol the streets, chanting “Greece is for the Greeks” – forgetting that there are almost as many Greeks or people of Greek heritage living outside of Greece as inside.

    So the only people left in Greece will be people like the angry young man in the commuter train who can’t find a job for two years yet refuses to do the work that the “illegals” are doing. Good luck building a prosperous country with people like that.

    • Then there’s this:

      “In a related development, a woman with dual citizenship — Greek and British — complained to the British Embassy that she had been stopped by five far-rightists who demanded to see her ID and forced her to speak Greek before letting her go. Skai understands that several embassies have received complaints from their citizens that members of Golden Dawn have demanded to see their IDs.”

      from here: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite1_1_12/10/2012_465926

    • Also this..

      “Meanwhile party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris declared that Golden Dawn would “intervene forcefully whenever the religious sensibilities and collective history of Greeks is insulted.”

      From the same source. Of course, the Golden Dawn goons will decide on behalf of everyone else when religious sensibilities or collective history of Greeks is insulted. No Need to think for yourselves, fellow Greeks, Golden Dawn will do your thinking for you. I await the book burnings.

  9. It’s immigrants who are the problem, Please look up crime statistics, the left keep victimising anyone who isn’t white, despite the fact most interracial crimes are against white people.
    Whites need to be educated instead the mass media keeps us ignorant. While we protect these immigrants just think about what these immigrants are doing to us.

  10. It’s interesting how the world cares about attacks on immigrants but never attacks by immigrants. Poetical correctness is hiding the real reason these attacks are happening.

  11. Also, the Greek
    government which has been raising taxes, slashing benefits, selling off Greece
    to international bankers, allowing third world squatters in, and has an
    unemployment rate of over 25%, now plans on opening shelters for 20,000
    Syrians. Oh yes, you read that right. The Left is batsh** insane. I almost
    cannot even believe this is real. How could it be possible to commit any
    greater form of treason except to just tell Erdogan, “here, take Greece
    back.” Now that the people are rising up they want a full out assault
    against Greek civilization. Pray for the Greeks to reawaken their Olympian
    spirit and smash the parasites.

    http://www.skynews.com.au/topstories/article.aspx?id=804863

  12. White people must face reality about multiculturalism It’s a disaster and if you want future generations safe then you will do the right thing by them by supporting the far-right. So many countries like Britain and Norway are plagued with anti-white crime by these immigrants, they overrun our countries and nobody will do anything to stop them. I’m glad Greece are at least making progress in sorting these people out. They deserve no tolerance, we owe them nothing.

  13. As much as I think illegal immigration is a huge problem in Greece that needs to be rectified, the solution against it has to be reasonable. With the Greek economy on the verge of collapse, it’s necessary for the Greek government to deport and turn away further immigrants; it’s for the survival of the Greek economy as a whole.
    However, what I do NOT think is necessary is the constant physical attacks on illegal immigrants, especially those who aren’t even criminals. Forcing them to leave Greece is one thing, but attacking, killing and dehumanizing human beings is another. And that’s the most major problem I find with Golden Dawn, who active promote these kinds of actions against immigrants; both illegal AND legal.
    Don’t get me wrong, illegal immigration is crippling Greece, and the Greek government at the moment is useless at caring for the welfare of its own citizens. But while I think Golden Dawn has acted beneficially for Greek citizens, it ultimately preaches as message of hate and extremism that would make things worse for Greece in the long-term. People are going to suffer if Golden Dawn is allowed to reign freely.
    It’s as if people forgotten that the Germans embraced the exact same ideology 80 years ago, over conditions almost exactly the same as current-day Greece. Yes, the party they supported briefly brought up the economy to extraordinary levels, but then look at how it all ended.

    It’s sad, really, when the only party in Greece with the means to support the Greek people is also a xenophobic hate group.

  14. As a Greek, I’m ashamed to be reading what you people are writing. We all want to live in a fair and just place and no one here offers real solutions for everyone to live in a fair and just society. Lets say you get rid of the immigrants and the problem persists?? Poverty and desperation will always exponentially increase crime and people being inhuman to each other. After the immigrants are gone and the focus shines on Greek on Greek crime, enjoy your civil war. But like Gun’s & Rose’s sang, “what’s so civil about war anyway.” I pray it doesn’t come to that but there is a saying I’d like to leave you with. Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it. I for 1 hope you all get what you ask for. I know you wont like the consequences of your actions. Theos Philaksi/ God protect us. Cheers

  15. I have been an immigrant nearly all my adult life.
    I have been an immigrant in a developed, liberal western country and an immigrant to a Middle eastern, muslim and super conservative country.
    I have been through a lot in my attempt to educate myslef, seek a job or just simply make new friends. Being an immigrant is not easy.
    But, I have never been threatened, beaten up, or asked for my ID, proof of nationality etc….
    Young people of Hellas, please come to your senses.
    Greeks have been immigrating ever since there was a formation of a modern Greek state, to Americas, Australia, Germany, UK, you name it.
    It is very upseting to be reading these embarassing comments about immigrants who come to Greece in hope of a better life, just like our grandparents and great grandparents once did in the past. Still to this day, there is no greek family who hasn’t got at least one relative in a far away land….How would you feel, if you knew that your giagia or great giagia, was raped, beaten up and humiliated just because she attempted to seek employment or simply better life conditions…????
    I say read some Modern history, find some inner peace within yourselves and stop letting off your anger and frustration to all the poor, frightened immigrants who come to Greece in hope of a better life, doing the jobs you never wanted to do…..
    I say get a life before you blame the others for your own incompetencies and incapabilities.

    • Well, there are nearly no immigrants to the Middle East, there are just migrants.
      You wrote that had been an immigrant to a “Muslim and super conservative country” but you forgot to mention that you can be an immigrant to that country only if you are a Muslim and even then in more then 99 cases out of 100 they will not accept you. Furthermore, nearly all of accepted immigrants will never became a citizens, even if they lived in that country for more then 10 years, In all other cases you are considered a migrant. And if you are a migrant your employer takes your passport and returns it to you when you finish your migrant work there. So in that you are right, if you were a migrant you have not been asked for the proof of your nationality because they did not need it, they had your passport.
      I wonder, what would you say if Greece had the same policy as that of a “Muslim and super conservative countr(ies)” who will boot out any illegal immigrant, will not give a citizenship to the children born in that country to Muslim migrant parents working for years in the country, and will only accept persons who believe in certain religion.
      I guess you would cry — “racism”.

  16. Greece is a very racist, xenophobic country. The human rights reports on Greece indicate it is by far the most racist country in Europe – and people that is really saying something.
    The Greek neo-Nazi party has recently opened up offices in Queen’s, New York and in Montreal. This neo-Nazi party has round 12% popular support in the country and currently has 18 members in the Greek parliament. Shockingly, the Greek neo-Nazi party is supported by 50% of Greek police officers – who are basically its handmaidens.
    I strongly suggest Canada eject these rabble-rousing Greek miscreants from the country before they begin to spew their xenophobic garbage in Canada as well.

  17. Bring them all to Canada, we could never have any kind of anti immigrant violence here…right?

  18. It’s gonna happen in North America.

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