Attacks on Immigrants on the Rise in Greece

Niki Kitsantonis, New York Times, December 1, 2010

A wave of violent attacks against immigrants by suspected right-wing extremists has put Muslims and the police on alert in rundown parts of Athens with burgeoning migrant populations.

Immigrants have been beaten and stabbed near central squares, and several makeshift mosques have been burned and vandalized. {snip}

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Tensions in neglected, crime-ridden parts of Athens with growing immigrant communities have been mounting over the past two years. {snip}

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Thanassis Kokkalakis, a police spokesman, said the problem was complex. He said that while “extremist elements” were believed to be behind certain attacks, there was also violence between migrants of different ethnic origins, muggings of Greeks by poverty-stricken foreigners and clashes between extreme rightists and left-wing protesters.

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The attacks in Greece mirror similar incidents in other European countries, including Switzerland, where a referendum last November led to a ban on the construction of minarets on mosques, and in France and Italy, where the authorities have deported Roma residents and immigrants.

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