Greek nationalists' pork-and-booze barbecue targets Muslim refugees

November, 2019

To outsiders, Diavata may seem like a sleepy village tucked in the rolling hills and bucolic landscape beyond Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city. But it's actually a flashpoint of nationalism, packed with far-right groups bent on keeping Greece for Greeks only.

Just years ago and at the height of Europe's refugee crisis, violent demonstrations emerged out of the region as authorities moved to set up some of the nation's first migrant camps.

Then, months later, locals in surrounding districts kept their kids home, padlocking the gates of state schools to block migrant children from seeking education in Greek classrooms.

Now, nationalists in Diavata are organizing an all-you-can-eat pork-and-booze-fest, with wafting smells of grilled pork and wine, next to the area's mostly Muslim refugee camp.

Pork and alcohol are strictly forbidden in Islam. "It's a new and innovative protest to show our opposition to continued inflows of illegal migrants," says Dimitris Ziambazis, the head organizer and leader of the nationalist United Macedonians group. "This situation cannot continue."

"Our homes and communities are turning into ghettos, and we will not stand for it," he adds. 

Greece is a predominantly Orthodox Christian state, and as large numbers of Muslim migrants have entered the country, Ziambazis and thousands of Greek nationalists have labeled Islam a "dire threat."

"It is high time authorities wake up and realize what's really happening here," warns Ziambazis.

Leftist parliamentarians and human rights groups have condemned the provocative protest, set for Sunday. They say it bodes badly for a country that just decades ago welcomed more than 600,000 Albanians, who are majority Muslim, allowing them to assimilate and start a new life here.

Source: DW