Human rights groups report that the number of racially motivated attacks have increased in Greece, as did the severity of the violence involved. Kostis Papaioannou, head of the National Commission for Human Rights, says the 2012 figures “shows some very interesting and very worrying tendencies regarding racist violence in Greece. We have both an increase in the numbers of attacks but also – which is really worrying too – we have an escalation of the tension of this violence.” The incidents have spiraled as Greece’s economy has worsened over the past few years.
The vast majority of attacks occurred in Athens, mainly in inner-city neighborhoods. Immigrants are often set upon by groups of men wielding metal bars, chains, brass knuckles, broken bottles, knives and wooden clubs. The victims suffer from broken bones, damage to sight and hearing and extensive bruising, reports the Racist Violence Recording Network, composed of 30 aid and human rights groups.
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Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Greece has warned Americans traveling to Greece to be wary of “a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived as foreign migrants.”
“U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent in Athens and other major cities,” cautions the embassy in a statement first posted on its website last November.