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Immigration, Anti-racism: Protest In Athens …

  • July 11th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

stephanie-demo-red-flag.jpgDemonstrations and industrial disputes are every-day events in Greece, where conflicts old and new are reopened by the near-bankrupt condition of the economy.

Interwoven with that is conflict over mass immigration from outside of Europe, which has given oxygen to an extreme right anti-immigration movement called Golden Dawn.

By Stephanie Kay
stephanie-demo-crowd-2.jpgEarly this month some four hundred people joined a protest rally in Nikais, near Piraeus, the Athens port area, under the banner of anti-racism.

The protestors said thugs from Golden Dawn had been menacing migrant shop-keepers, telling them to shut down their businesses,  under threat.

They carried placards using the word NAZI, and said that on June 23, the business owners, some of them Pakistani immigrant workers, were ordered to get out or ‘face consequences’.

All the businesses in question were legal and licensed.

Golden Dawn as a political party took advantage of anti-immigration sentiment to win 18 out of the 300 seats in the Greek Parliament at the June elections; this year was the first in which they would have elected members.

One demonstrator said he was worried by the party getting that much success.

“We are here to demonstrate against the golden dawn attacks, in the area… It’s the attacks against the immigrants.”

stephanie-demo-speaker-2.jpgPetros Constantinou, an Athens City Councillor, said the bullying of the shop-keepers was far from being the first threat, or act of violence against immigrants in Athens, and was the product of something more sinister.

“It is a threat what they are doing is they are transforming into actions what the racist politicians in the government say. So the nazis exploited the political crisis by presenting themselves as a popular party. But the reality is they are cooperating with the police against the movement, against the left and of course against immigrants.”

Mr Constantinou said it was uncertain if or when the situation would improve.

“No we don’t know. I think that we can stop them, we can isolate their actions.”

stephanie-demo-sign-2.jpgDozens of police, some with riot gear, waited around in the neighbourhood while the protest went on, possibly in case the other side turned up and started a fight.

Greece’s new government is headed by a conservative party, called New Democracy, which says it is concerned about one-and-a-half-million migrants being in Greece.

The government has started talks with its counterparts in neighbouring countries  — Italy, Spain and Portugal – about regulating the movement of people.