Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Rise of Neo-Nazis in Greece

From The National, Jun 25, 2012

22 Afghan migrants share this flat in central Athens

ATHENS // As he does every night, Mohammad Zaffari, a neat and sprightly 65-year-old from Afghanistan, was picking through rubbish in a skip in central Athens when the fascists attacked him.

“They asked me where I was from, but before I could answer they were beating me until I was almost unconscious,” he said through an interpreter. “There were around 10 or 15 in the group – most of them teenagers, the oldest around 25.”

He claims one of the gang proudly stated their allegiance to Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi party that won 18 seats in last Sunday’s election.

The police came and the gang dispersed. There were no arrests. The first thing the police said to Mr Zaffari as he lay groaning on the ground was: “Show us your papers.”

Greece has seen a sudden surge in immigration. It now handles more than 80 per cent of the illegal migration into Europe – up from 25 per cent only four years ago – as tighter security has closed off alternative routes and the landmines that once dotted the border with Turkey have been removed.

There are an estimated half a million illegal immigrants in Greece, and between 150 and 200 more arrive every day, escaping poverty, conflict and political persecution in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.

And this is happening in the middle of the worst economic crisis in recent Greek history – a deadly coincidence that has fostered an outpouring of racial hatred. Anti-immigrant parties across Europe are exploiting the economic downturn to increase support, but in Greece the situation is extreme: dozens of nightly attacks on minorities, growing networks of fascists in schools and impoverished areas, a foothold for Golden Dawn in parliament, and a political elite either unwilling or unable to confront it.

Read the rest here…


Greek society on the verge of collapse

The National, Jun 17, 2012

ATHENS // Greek voters could hold the fate of the world economy in their hands as they head for the polls today, but with their society on the brink of collapse many are ready to reject the harsh austerity measures imposed by the international community.

“I am one of the lucky ones: I was fired last week,” said Tasos Kostopoulos, a journalist with 25 years’ experience at one of Greece’s leading daily papers.

He had not been paid for 10 months. Now that he has been officially sacked, there is at least a chance of compensation.

“If the paper goes bankrupt, perhaps I will receive something in a year or two.”

This is what passes for good fortune in Greece today, two years after a debt crisis sent the country into a spiral of recession and unemployment – now at a record high of more than 22 per cent.

Since then, the country has been forced to accept severe austerity measures, including huge cuts in public spending, as part of an international bailout. Critics say austerity has exacerbated the downturn and brought the country to the point of social and economic collapse.

Ominous signs are everywhere. Shops are closing one after another. Adverts offering cash for gold have sprouted like weeds on every corner.

Cafes are deserted and hassled by beggars, previously a rare sight in downtown Athens. At one central station, a man in a fraying suit checks each ticket machine for loose change.

Read the rest here…