In an outrageous purging that is indicative of the right-wing direction much of Europe has turned, Greek authorities conducted a massive crackdown on illegal immigrants over the weekend, stopping and checking tens of thousands of African and Asian people on the street and eventually detaining 6,000 in Athens.
Just as in much of the rest of the continent, the focus on the immigrants from Africa and Asia comes as the nation’s economic difficulties and rising crime have caused many citizens to blame the problems on immigrants. The xenophobic reaction is especially severe in Greece because the country’s population is so small and the nation has traditionally been an entry point to Europe for many immigrants coming in through neighboring Turkey to the east.
Not everyone in Greece—which has seen a rise in the popularity of extreme right-wing politics—cheered the move. The country’s left-wing opposition parties criticized the crackdown and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees voiced concern that migrants from war-torn countries and genuine asylum-seekers could be denied the right of protection.
But Dendias said that by the end of the year Greece will be able to detain up to 10,000 people.
“Whoever is arrested will be held and then deported,” he said.