A neo-Nazi vigilante group has claimed to be behind an attack in Athens on Thursday, wherein far-right individuals vandalised the office of the Afghan Community in Greece, before dousing it in petrol and setting it alight. The attack occurs amidst a rise in xenophobic and anti-immigrant attitudes across Europe, evinced in Greece by a significant increase in racially-motivated hate crimes. Thankfully, no members of the Afghan Community in Greece were injured in the attack, as it occurred during their lunch break. The neo-Nazi group, known as Crypteia, was relatively unknown until November of last year, when members attacked the home of an 11-year-old Afghan child. Crypteia is suspected of being associated with ultranationalist neo-fascist Greek political party Golden Dawn, which currently holds 16 seats in Greek parliament.
Naim Elghandour, President of the Muslim Association of Greece, speaking to Al Jazeera, stated that, “This wasn’t the first attack, and it won’t be the last.” Civil society organisations operating in Greece have confessed to receiving threatening phone calls from the group. A news agency reported receiving a call from a blocked number, wherein an individual, who identified themselves as being a member of Crypteia, claimed, “We will fight until the last immigrant leaves. And to that end, we will use force and violence, mercilessly.”
Hostility towards migrants stoked by far-right groups is a serious growing concern across Europe. The Greek government has a responsibility to protect vulnerable populations within its society and to ensure their security. According to Al Jazeera, hate crimes reported in Greece almost tripled in 2017. The name Crypteia references an ancient Spartan state security force which served the goal of terrorizing the subjugated helot population. The rise of violent far-right fascist and neo-Nazi groups is of extreme concern, and threats should be thoroughly investigated to demonstrate that Greek authorities hold zero tolerance for hostility motivated by racial and religious diversity.
Former President of the Afghan Community in Greece, Yonous Muhammadi recalled experiencing a previous attack in 2010, when members of a far-right group broke down the door of the organisation office, destroyed their equipment and beat Muhammadi. Anti-terrorism police recently arrested seven alleged members of the Greek branch of international neo-Nazi group Combat 18, confiscating 50 kilograms of explosives, as well as drugs, shotguns, and other weapons in the process. Prior to the recent surge in violent actions perpetrated against minority groups, the occurrence of hate crime in Greece had decreased since 2013, when 69 members of Golden Dawn were arrested following the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a member of the political party.
It is crucial that Greek authorities address the increase in hostile attitudes towards migrants, and work towards ensuring that these individuals, especially those from Muslim-majority countries, who have been the primary targets of recent violence, are being protected. The brutal attack against the Afghan Community in Greece office in Athens demonstrates, once again, that governments across Europe must make a clear stand against the existence of fascist and neo-Nazi groups and the racist and vitriolic values they prescribe to.
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