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Immigrants in Greece bear the brunt

June 08, 2012

ATHENS, June 8: Greece's huge immigrant population has borne the brunt of the tidal wave of anger and despair that last month catapulted Chrysi Avgi — Golden Dawn — into parliament. A surge of recent attacks on migrants, particularly from Pakistan and Afghanistan, has been blamed on the neo-fascist party. Immigrants have been assaulted in their homes, on the streets, on trains and on buses in and outside city centres, with most requiring intensive hospital care.

Last week far rightists were accused of an arson attack on a migrants’ hostel in Athens.

Ourania Michaloliakou, the daughter of Chrysi Avgi's leader, was among six masked party cadres charged with conducting a motorcycle raid against Pakistani migrants, although they were later released.

The party's motto is that Greece should “rid itself of such filth”. Immigrant organisations say the rise in attacks has prompted a growing number of migrants to voluntarily return to their homelands. Regarded as the most extreme of Europe's rightwing parties, Chrysi Avgi denies accusations of neo-Nazism.

But Nikos Michaloliakos, the party's leader, has questioned the veracity of Nazi gas chambers and concentration camps.

Over the past year the group has been blamed for arson attacks on cemeteries and synagogues in Athens, Salonika and Crete. Michaloliakos has long been dismissed as an eccentric curiosity — but with his party set to re-enter parliament that is no longer the case.

By arrangement with the Guardian