A military camp in Corinth, west of Athens, became the cause of a standoff between supporters of the far-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party and anti-racism campaigners after the police used the center to detain dozens of migrants following a sweep operation in the city.
Police expanded their Xenios Zeus campaign, aimed at tackling illegal immigration, from Athens to Corinth early Thursday, leading to some 250 migrants being detained. Almost 11,000 migrants have been detained since the clampdown began earlier this month, leading to nearly 2,000 arrests.
However, the move prompted the reaction of supporters of Golden Dawn. About 60 members of the neo-fascist part, along with local party MP Efstathios Boukouras, gathered outside the camp to protest migrants being held there. There were brief clashes with riot police, who were pelted with fruit and vegetables by the protesters.
In a statement, the ultranationalist party said it opposed military facilities being turned into “tourism centers for illegal immigrants.”
Local Mayor Alekos Pnevmatikos also objected to the transfer of the migrants to the army camp and not being informed about the operation. “I received no official notice,” he said. “I learned about it from friends on Thursday morning. The reaction to this will be strong. We’re at war.”
Pnevmatikos ordered the water supply to the camp to be cut off due to unpaid bills and said that no more garbage collections would take place until the matter is resolved. A municipal council meeting took place late last night to discuss the issue, while Golden Dawn supporters and anti-racism campaigners were involved in skirmishes outside.
Earlier, Golden Dawn MP and party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris attacked the coalition government for “turning Greece into Europe’s dumping ground” and referred to illegal immigrants as “trash.”
Kasidiaris was warned about his language by the parliamentary speaker but insisted that “we have a democracy and I can use whichever phrases I feel fit the circumstances.”