The Greek economy can barely sustain its own population, yet bears the additional burden of over one million illegal immigrants. Anthonis Samaras has put the issue at the center of his election campaign, calling for a European policy to tackle the issue and for new migrant detention centers to be opened in the border regions.
As Digital Journal
reported the Greek state barely has enough money to feed prison inmates, and hospitals are running short of vital drugs, yet Samaras proposes more detention centers when the existing ones scarcely have the necessary cash to function. Athens News
reported Samaras said "Greece has experienced an invasion of illegal immigrants, we shall stop it. We are calling for the support of society to become a country of security and democracy."
Ironically the invasion he spoke of occurred under the watch of New Democracy and PASOK, with neither party giving much emphasis to the the issue. Only with the election of far-right Golden Dawn to Parliament, which campaigned on an anti-immigration platform, did the concerns of citizens over the issue make any impact on the mainstream parties. Bereft of a substantial policy to deal with the matter, voters who have experienced the ghettoization of their neighbourhoods or experienced crime at the hands of illegals, have turned to Golden Dawn as a symbol of protection.
With the Greek health service in crisis Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros played to nationalist sentiments as he addressed a rally in Athens. The Guardian
reported he said "If Chrysi Avgi gets into parliament it will carry out raids on hospitals and kindergartens and it will throw immigrants and their children out on the street so that Greeks can take their place."
Greek migrant organizations have complained that attacks on migrants have intensified since the election of Golden Dawn in the May 6 elections. Speaking to Ekathimerini
, Reza Gholami, the head of an association of Afghans, said "Things have got worse since the elections. There are daily beatings. These guys don’t just want to frighten people, they are hitting to kill. They are hitting on the head, a lot of people are attacking at the same time. Most incidents are not known because immigrants do not notify authorities. They are afraid for their lives or don’t have legal papers or lack the funds to pay the cost of a lawsuit.”
Yet, for all the reports of alleged Golden Dawn attacks on migrants there are equally many accounts of Golden Dawn offering protection to frightened citizens. There are also allegations that certain attacks on migrants may have been staged to implicate Golden Dawn and turn voters against them.