“Over the past few months, as Greece has sunk deeper into crisis, racist attacks against immigrants have risen sharply. Unsatisfied with the police’s response to this violence, residents of Athens have taken to patrolling a neighbourhood where thugs are known to beat up immigrants and cause damage to their shops. They call themselves “anti-fascists”. Their sworn enemy: Golden Dawn and its sympathisers.
The far-right party, once considered to be on the fringe, has surged in popularity since winning an electoral foothold in parliament in June. Golden Dawn’s sworn enemy, meanwhile, is illegal immigrants, which they blame for the country’s economic woes. Just last month, one of the party’s leading lawmakers led a group of his men into a street market, where they demanded to see permits from any vendor who looked foreign. They even destroyed one of the stalls and scattered the merchandise. Vendors at the market said police stood by and watched.
After several such incidents, the government scrapped the police protection that Golden Dawn lawmakers had enjoyed since their election, as all lawmakers do in Greece. However, many human rights groups now accuse the police of looking the other way and even discouraging victims of violence from filing complaints. Sometimes, as an amateur video filmed earlier this year shows, police officers have even participated in violence against immigrants.”