Friday, January 27, 2012

Greece's Epidemic of Racist Attacks

by Eva Cosse

New York Times

January 26, 2012

When I tell people in Athens, my hometown, that I am doing research on racist violence in Greece, I am met with disbelief. There’s no problem, they say, and even if things sometimes happen it’s a temporary blip linked to the economic crisis.

The Greek government seems to share their view. It recorded only two hate crimes in the whole country in 2009 and one in 2008. More recent figures are not available.

I experienced the reality firsthand a week ago. I was interviewing Razia, an Afghan single mother, in the small apartment she shares with her three children in Aghios Panteleimonas square in Athens about the numerous attacks on her home since she moved in a year and a half earlier. Other Afghan migrants were visiting her the day I was there.

Suddenly masked thugs, who had been gathering outside, threw heavy objects at the front door, cracking the thick glass. During the few minutes the attack lasted, I could see the silhouettes of the attackers. People panicked and backed away from the windows, as the apartment is on the ground floor of the building, while Razia gathered up her scared children.