As many of Greece’s young people look for opportunities abroad, waves of immigrants and refugees look for a future here in Greece. “If you’ve come from a village in Afghanistan, Greece is (still) a very prosperous place,” as Barnaby Phillips notes in his report for Al-Jazeera. This coming and going may well shape the future of Greece, as both of these issues (especially when combined) have the potential to reshape the Greek state. Phillips further observes:
After four years of living in Athens, I can see some trends emerging that are not relative but absolute. The city centre is a noticeably poorer, more squalid and depressing place. The economic collapse of the past two years and the inflows of poor immigrants make for a disastrous mix.
Many businesses have closed down, many buildings have become slum-like accommodation.
Where will it all lead? One disturbing sign was last week’s local elections. Chrysi Avgi (“Golden Dawn”) is a Greek fascist organisation; it attracts violent people, and it is full of hatred for people of colour. In the past it has always been an irrelevance in elections. But this time, it won more than five per cent of the vote, and a seat on the municipal council.
In some of the inner-city areas where tensions between locals and immigrants are at their greatest, Chrysi Avgi won 15 per cent of the vote. Its success is already leading to a hardening of the political tone. The front-runner for mayor in this weekend’s run-off vote is now talking about “the immediate repatriation, through legal means, of all illegal migrants”.
Please continue to pray for Greece… and read Phillip’s article in full here.
Top Picture: Greek students have been holding regular protests against planned education reforms and government austerity measures [AFP] via Al-Jazeera