NEWS

Tension in Athens stoked up

Five people were injured in an arson attack on a makeshift mosque early on Saturday, in an incident that seemed to be a result of the clashes in central Athens on Friday that followed the alleged desecration of a copy of the Quran by a police officer. Police said that assailants broke a window to a basement in the neighborhood of Aghios Panteleimonas, near central Athens, at 2.45 a.m. on Saturday and then set fire to the room, which was used as a place of worship by migrants living in the area. Five Bangladeshis who were in the room had to be rescued by the 12 firefighters who arrived at the scene and were then taken to the hospital to be treated for minor injuries. Police sources said the incident was probably linked to Friday’s protest, prompted by allegations from a Syrian migrant that a policeman defaced a miniature copy of pages from the Quran during a search for drugs. The protest by some 1,500 migrants was marred by some clashes with police and incidents of vandalism that led to some 75 vehicles and about a dozen stores being attacked. Police made 46 arrests. Two migrants were injured during the unrest. Muslim organizations held another, more peaceful protest in Omonia Square on Saturday. In an open letter published yesterday, the Muslim Union of Greece said that any Muslims involved in violence or looting brought shame upon their community. The incidents of the past few days have heightened fears about tensions in the city center, which were fueled earlier this month when members of the extreme nationalist group Chryssi Avgi (Golden Dawn) attacked migrants who are squatting in an abandoned courthouse in central Athens.