Far-right fascist groups are on the rise in Greece, leading authorities to beef up security measures in fear of an attack similar to the slaughter in Norway two weeks ago, the Associated Press reports.While governments throughout Europe have been increasing their vigilance of right-wing extremists, convening an emergency meeting in Brussels last week to discuss the problem, Greece seems particularly fertile soil for a fascist movement to develop. The combination of ongoing financial collapse and rampant illegal immigration problem have led to social strife and widespread xenophobia, AP reports.
According a June report by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in some neighborhoods in Athens, “cruel and criminal attacks are nearly a daily phenomenon staged by fascist groups that have established an odd lawless regime.”
For several days in May, a group of “black-shirted, bat-wielding” youths raided a neighbourhood in Athens, stabbing and beating more than one hundred Asian and African immigrants. Dozens remain hospitalized from the attacks.
Athens security officials are increasing protections for immigrant prayer spaces in the wake of the Norway attacks. At least 10 mosques have been attacked in the past year, according to Naim Elgandour, head of the Muslim Association of Greece.
“There may be 5,000 hardcore extremists in Athens, [but] they are gaining sympathy and tolerance by the day,” Elgandour said.
Aristotle Kallis, a scholar of European fascism, told the AP that the prejudice against immigrants is “spreading well beyond the constituency of the conventional far-right.” Indeed, last year, Nikolaos Michaloliakos. head of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn, won a seat on the Athens City Council.