NEWS

Muslim groups call for calm

Tensions simmered yesterday in parts of central Athens with large immigrant populations, following a weekend of protests by Muslims at a police officer’s alleged defacement of a Quran and an attack by suspected far-rightists on a makeshift mosque. Groups representing Muslim immigrants called on authorities to be cautious in their reaction to the weekend’s developments so as not to fuel anger. Meanwhile, the police force insisted that its ties with immigrant community groups were good and blamed the violent outbursts that marred a protest by immigrants in central Athens on Friday on «a small minority of extremists on the fringes of the communities.» The president of the Muslim Union of Greece, Naim Elghandour, called for a measured approach to all Muslims. «I appeal to everyone to stop playing games with the religious sentiment of these youngsters who are extremely troubled… and experience their faith as a final refuge,» he said. Backed by Elghandour’s union, a Pakistani national yesterday lodged a legal suit against the police officer alleged to have torn up a copy of the Quran during a routine inspection last week. The officer has countered that he had ripped the migrant’s Quran after taking it to be a suspect package, possibly containing drugs, as it had been bound with tape. Meanwhile, a group representing the Pakistani community in Greece sought «forgiveness» for migrants who resorted to violence in Friday’s rally. In a related development, residents of Aghios Panteleimonas, where suspected rightists torched a makeshift mosque on Saturday, condemned the «terrorism exercised by far-right elements» during a recent presentation in the district’s main square of a book by Athens-based Albanian journalist and author Gazmend Kapllani.