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Greece's Politics of Fear: How a Brutal Austerity Regime is Leading to Attacks on Immigrants and Activists

The Greek government has embarked on a crusade to silence dissident voices by exercising fear politics.

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Now, anti-fascists know very well that they will have to face the police when confronted with the Golden Dawn members.

On September 30, 15 demonstrators were arrested and tortured for demonstrating on motorbikes and trying to defend members of the Tanzanian community who were being attacked by extreme far-right men.

Again, the story captured the attention of people worldwide, but failed to change the Greek government's tolerance to racist crimes.

Racism and fascism are becoming a trend now. In downtown Athens and in the troubled area of Agios Panteleimonas, the whole neighbourhood went through two days of tension.

Racist thugs attacked immigrants and ransacked their properties in retaliation to a barber's murder. A local barber was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant and the racists believed the culprit to be an immigrant.

Three immigrants were stabbed and shops were completely destroyed, while in different parts of the city, Golden Dawn members attacked the gay community and leftists.

Egyptians, Nigerians and Pakistanis were forced to close their shops early and go into hiding to avoid more violence.

Fear politics

As hate crimes are being "legitimised", the instances of them are on the rise. On November 4, a young immigrant from Egypt was found beaten and tied with a heavy chain by his neck to a tree in the island of Salamina, near Athens. 

His employer - the immigrant was employed at a bakery - surrendered to the police and admitted beating and chaining him because he suspected his employee of theft. The very same day, another immigrant from Bangladesh was chased and stabbed in the leg by three Greek offenders for no obvious reason. 

 

This is the picture of a country where the standard of living is deteriorating and radical consensus cannot be achieved anymore. When consensus is not reached with persuasion, then it is being forced with coercion.

Official or unofficial, power structures are exercising fear politics just like what we saw in the Arab world before the revolutions, but this time it is European style. And again it would be wrong to portray Greece as a country where fascism and racism dominate.

A few days ago, an anti-fascist solidarity concert was held and thousands of Greeks gathered to protest against racist attacks on immigrants and rising tide of far-right extremism. 

On many occasions, people have expressed solidarity with the weaker sections of society regardless of colour, race or sexual orientation. Anti-fascist rallies have become more and more common these days in the country.

In this atmosphere, Greece is entering one of its most intense political periods since the austerity programme started in 2010. The three-party government is voting in parliament today on cutting 18 billion euros in the next two years from wages, pensions and social benefits.

The austerity measures also include: Laying off 150,000 public workers over the next two years, a two-year extension of the retirement age from 65 to 67, drastic cuts in unemployment benefits as well as all pensions above 1,000 euro per month.

These measures are not just quantitative expressions of the financial crisis. They will not only impoverish the Greeks even more, but also drag the economy further down the path of recession. They will have a qualitative effect on society which has spread fear and anger in the population. They will create more room for the politics of fear.

The workers are trying to change the agenda once again by bringing to the fore the need to protect the welfare state as the guarantor of the democratic system, which is in the historical core of the European project.

 
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