NEWS

Migrants call for protection

Racially motivated attacks against immigrants have intensified in recent months, a prominent member of the local Pakistani community said Tuesday, alleging that police have failed to respond effectively to protect the victims.

Javied Aslam, who is the president of the Pakistani community in Greece, also accused the police of physically abusing foreigners during an unprecedented crackdown on clandestine immigrants.

?In the past six months, knife-wielding fascists have attacked some 500 persons with impunity from the police,? Aslam, who is also chief of Greece?s Migrant Workers? Association, told Skai Radio Tuesday. ?The law does not apply to them,? said the 43-year-old Aslam.

A 19-year-old man from Iraq was killed in an attack outside a makeshift mosque in central Athens in the early hours of Sunday by a group of individuals on motorcycles. Police have yet to make a breakthrough in connection with the fatal stabbing.

The lingering recession and record-high unemployment have helped fan anti-immigrant sentiment here, with foreigners blamed for soaring crime and for ?stealing? jobs from Greeks.

Aslam, who has been in Greece since 1996 and currently works as an interpreter at hospitals, said that because of the economic meltdown some 15,000 Pakistanis have left Greece since the crisis began. Immigrants did not come here for a holiday but to find a better future, said Aslam, who also accused police of mistreating migrants during Operation Xenios Zeus.

Code-named after the ancient Greek god of hospitality, the ongoing campaign has seen more than 7000 foreigners detained and 1,650 immigrants arrested for not having a valid residence permit. Sixty people were arrested and another 393 were briefly detained Tuesday.

Meanwhile, prompted by complaints of intensifying hate attacks, police in Iraklio, Crete, yesterday began patrolling the neighborhoods populated by immigrants.

Following a string of assaults against migrants in the area, representatives had met with Iraklio?s prosecutor and police chief to demand increased security measures.

Online