Hate crimes on rise in Greece amid surge in ‘nationalist populism’

April, 2019

Monitoring group says racist hate crimes have gone up 14 percent, with members of the far-right Golden Dawn movement often responsible.

After a long day searching for a new job, Gulbaz Mohammed made his way home on foot, following the same path he walked each day in the Athens suburb of Peristeri.

The sun had already gone down on May 13, 2018, and the Pakistani migrant worker turned down the dimly-lit street leading to his home, spotting a group of six black-clad youth.

Four of the men surrounded him, while two others kept a lookout at the nearby intersection. “Go back to Pakistan,” they shouted as the first fist smashed into his face.

He initially kept his balance, but the men continued kicking and punching him, eventually toppling him on to the sidewalk.

Captured on tape by a nearby security camera, the attackers continued to strike him as he fell to the ground, struggling to regain his balance.

After the assault, Mohammed began changing up his route home each evening, hoping to avoid any additional attacks. 

“If I see groups of young men, I walk the other way,” he told TRT World.

The incident came amid a swell of far-right violence last year, much of it targeting migrants and refugees in Greece.

On Thursday, the Athens-based Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) released its annual report, which documented a 14-percent increase in racist violence in 2018 when compared to the previous year.

Between 2017 and 2018, the total number of hate crimes grew from 102 to 117, while the number of attacks targeting refugees and migrants more than doubled.

Altogether, the tally included 226 incidents, among them 152 targeting refugees and migrants; nearly one-in-four incidents targeted Pakistani nationals living in Greece.

Far-right and anti-migrant violence reached a fever pitch in 2013, when supporters and members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and other far-rightists carried out a wave of violence across the country.

In 2012, Golden Dawn surged in a pair of legislative elections, subsequently entering parliament for the first time. The group rode a wave of anger stemming from austerity and economic crisis, blaming migrants for much of the country’s woes.

Source: TRT World