Greeks target immigrants as economy takes dive

As the Greek economy teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, anger is being directed toward the tens of thousands of immigrants living in the capital, Athens.

Many Greeks blame them for rising crime rates and unemployment. Migrant groups say the authorities often ignore, or even encourage racist attacks against them.

The recent killing of a Greek citizen by an unknown assailant has unleashed a wave of anti-immigrant violence across the city.

Afghan migrants Hafeez, Mohammed and Sahil are studying English at an evening class in Athens. Like hundreds of other foreigners living in Greece, Hafeez was recently targeted by anti-immigrant mobs roaming the streets of Athens. His right eye still bears the scars.

“I was on my way back home from work,” he said. “When I was walking along the street, there were about six or seven people coming from the opposite side. When they saw me they didn’t say anything, then when they came near to me they started to beat me. They didn’t say anything, they just started to beat me… on my face, on the back of my head, and all over my body.”

Greece is narrowly close to bankruptcy. Facing soaring unemployment and harsh austerity measures, there is a well of anger building in Greek society. Greece’s foreigners are among its victims.

This anti-immigrant demonstration in Athens earlier this year was one of many to turn violent. Still, the flow of migrants into Greece shows no signs of stopping. Up to 300 people a day try to cross the River Evros that divides Greece and Turkey, to reach the European Union. Detention centers are overwhelmed, so most migrants are released after a couple of days.

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