A migrant from Pakistani descent is another victim of racism in Greece. The hate against migrants and racism is ever increasing. Europe shall face a huge problem in the near future, if no actions are going to be taken in the present. How much longer are they willing to wait?
A young man (27) was stabbed to death by multiple entry wounds on his way to earn an honest euro on Thursday the 17th. This tragedy occurred in broad day light in Athens. The suspects are two Greek men in the same age category as the victim, i.e 25 and 29. Both suspects had work: one in the private sector and the other a fireman. What drove these suspects to commit this heinous crime? Considering the recent events in Greece one does not have to use much imagination, to guess which factors contributed to this: racism and extremism. The suspects are allegedly affiliated with Golden Dawn. Knives and promotional material of Gold Dawn was found in a police raid at the suspect’s homes.
In the recent elections Golden Dawn, an extremist fascist party won almost 7% of the votes. This translates to 430.000 Greek voters’ support. Supposedly, the majority of the Greek police voted for this right-winged party. This goes to illustrating the strong ties between the police force and the Golden Dawn. It may even clarify why it is so difficult to prosecute members of Golden Dawn that commit crimes in Greece.
The economic crisis has contributed to the current state of affairs in Greece. Poverty is sky-rocketing. Huge unemployment, social exclusion, homelessness, children who faint during classes due to lack of nutrition, increase of suicides… This is the reality in Greece year 2013.
This reality is fertile soil for fascism and extremism to flourish. The migrants in Greece are facing hard time. Not only do they suffer like the Greek population from the economic crisis, but they also are closely monitored as they are now considered part of the problem. Many migrants have left Greece. Those still in Greece look over their shoulder, watching out for their lives.
The government reacts by organizing raids against immigrants and especially against undocumented migrants. Circulating images depict undocumented migrants being transported in trains to deportation centers. From there they are repatriated. Upon viewing, one cannot but recall the deportation of Jews, Gypsies and others during the Nazi-regime.
These are distressing images that illustrate the state of democracy and human rights in Greece and Europe at present times. Paradoxically, the EU received the Nobel Price for Peace last year. This price was awarded for ‘contribution to democracy and human rights’. Strangely enough, these prized values are on the decline within the European Union. Greece has held the first position in the violation of human rights in Europe for decades now. This member of the European Union plays but a supporting role in what can rightly be called a Greek tragedy. The European Union shines in its leading role, albeit through its passivity. Not to forget the other actors that take the stage in the Greek socio-economic drama that are the European Commission and the European Central Bank together with the International Monetary Fund.
This all plays out to the advantage of the Golden Dawn, that know how to play their cards well.. A crisis is fine and fertile soil for fascism. The Golden Dawn does not shy away from nor mask their fascist rhetoric on public television and rallies; they seem unstoppable. For example, Ilias Kasidiaris, the spokes person of Golden Dawn, physically assaulted a female member of parliament on live television. Today he is member of the Greek Parliament and even has plans to run as candidate for the position of mayor in Athens. One does taste the bitter sting of irony in this Greece tragedy; Greece is after all the birthplace of democracy.
What makes the Golden Dawn most dangerous is their activities in villages all across the country. They offer people food and medicine in exchange for votes. Besides providing filling bellies they also provide shelter. Legions of youngsters are seduced by the fascist rhetoric and the fulfillment of their basic needs.
The young that are recruited are taken to the cities. During protests or other meetings by migrants, gays, leftists these youngsters are used to intimidate protesters or initiate violence. In various cities they have their own militias that intimidate migrants in the same fashion on a daily basis, there are many examples all around Greece. In particular Blacks, Muslims and Asians are being attacked. Even though numerous reports have been revealed in different medias and by important organizations such as International Amnesty and Human Rights Watch, neither the Greek government nor Europe Union have undertaken any actions. As long as no clear and firm response is formulated there will be more victims. Most recently, the innocent Pakistani on his way to work.
Those who think that such occurrences only take place in Greece, should think twice as in other Southern European countries but also Northern Countries- Germany, France, The Netherlands, United Kingdom and Belgium- there is a rise of racism and fascism.
In Belgium, more particularly in Antwerp, policymakers themselves have been asking citizens to ‘play’ the policeman. The attorney of Antwerp launched a series of racist proposals on tackling what he called ‘small criminality’. The mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever, and the Minister of Justice, Annemie Turtelboom, both fully supported him in his proposals even though a number of protests arose from many different corners.
Europe is playing a dangerous game. It does not realize that there are many parties, movements and people who sow hatred and racism. Europe should be the first to know, considering her history, that you reap what you sow. The EU must act immediately and take a stand against xenophobia and racism. This is not the type of society we wish to live in today nor leave behind for the future generations of tomorrow.
Bleri Lleshi is political philosopher
Translation from Dutch to English by Halil Çikmazkara
Foto: (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) Pakistani demonstrating at the place where the young man was killed