Violence erupted in Athens after some 300 members of a neo-Nazi group gathered to warn against "hordes of illegal immigrants" and later clashed with a group of squatters. Elsewhere in the city leftist anarchists clashed with police.
AFP - Clashes broke out Saturday in central Athens between far-right extremists and a group of squatters, and elsewhere in the Greek capital between left-wing anarchists and police.
Violence erupted after some 300 members of neo-Nazi group Chryssi Avghi, or Golden Dawn, gathered in Omonia square saying they wanted to liberate Athens and Greece from what they described as "hordes of illegal immigrants".
Police cordoned off the square to prevent a counter-protest by several far-left groups and NGOs from entering.
The neo-Nazis unrolled a huge Greek flag and banners calling for the "departure of foreigners from Greece" and claiming "foreigners equal crime".
They then headed on to Athens' old Court of Appeal where 500 immigrants have been squatting for several weeks and are threatened with expulsion by the government.
Police allowed the protesters to rally past the building which they proceded to bombard with various projectiles and non-lethal stun grenades. "Out of Greece" and "Leave Greece for the Greeks," they shouted as they made Nazi salutes.
Immigrants retaliated by throwing stones from the upper floors of the building and riot police were called to break up the clashes.
Further fighting then broke out between the neo-Nazis and a group of anarchists while the police struggled to separate the two sides.
Earlier Saturday some 150 young anarchists, protesting against the Omonia demonstration which they termed a "racist gathering", threw Molotov cocktails at security forces in another area of the Greek capital.
Tear gas fired by the police forced the youths to retreat to the sanctuary of their polytechnic school but not before three of them were arrested.
Rights groups on Friday denounced the deplorable conditions faced by the 500 squatting migrants holed up in the old court building where they inhabit eight floors with no electricity or running water.
They have called on the Greek government to abandon a planned police operation to expel the immigrants and suggested instead that the building is cleaned until appropriate alternative lodging can be found.
Date created : 2009-05-09