Members of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn are seen above during an election campaign rally. Ever since the group  won seats in parliament in the June election, there has been a sharp rise in racist attacks in the immigrant quarters of Athens.     — File Photo by Reuters

ATHENS: Two Pakistani immigrants were in hospital late Saturday after being stabbed on the margins of an anti-racism rally on the outskirts of Athens, police said.

One of them was said to be in a serious condition.

The attack, in the western suburb of Metamorfossi, came after the end of the demonstration, in which about 300 people were protesting racist violence.

A motorbike and a car stopped in front of the men and a group of people got out and attacked them with knives. A third Pakistani immigrant with them at the time escaped unhurt, said police.

Since the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn won seats in parliament in the June election, there has been a sharp rise in racist attacks in the immigrant quarters of Athens.

In recent weeks the once-fringe group has organised Greeks-only food handouts and blood donations, and has twice ousted migrant peddlers from street markets to the delight of local operators and the outrage of authorities.

The group's ratings have risen to over 10 percent in recent opinion polls.

Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias earlier this month stripped the group's 18 lawmakers of their police guards after one of them was allegedly implicated in the smashing of immigrant trading stalls.

But some observers say that the group's members have benefited from judicial inertia and a suspiciously soft-handed response by police, who usually fail to arrest Golden Dawn members even when under direct attack by them.

Last month, a young Iraqi was stabbed to death by five bikers.

Protests againt the surge in racist violence also took place in the port of Piraeus, next to Athens, and in another Athens suburb.


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