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Protesters clash with police for a second day over Koran incident

Video by Catherine NICHOLSON , Jonathan WALSH

Latest update : 2009-05-23

Muslim immigrants clashed with Greek police for a second day on Friday over accusations that police officers tore up a Koran during an identity check of immigrants earlier this week. Some 1,000 Muslims rallied in Athens' Omonia square.

AFP - Muslim immigrants clashed again with Greek police Friday during a second day of protests in Athens over charges that officers tore up a Koran during an identity check of immigrants.
   
Nearly 1,000 Muslims rallied in the city's central Omonia square in a demonstration organised by leftist, immigrant and anti-racism groups.
   
Several men in their 20s and 30s from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Syria and Somalia marched to parliament and the interior minister shouting "Allah! Allah!" and slogans in Arabic.
   
The Greek capital's main streets were closed amid a heavy police presence.
   
Violence broke out at the end of the demonstration as around 100 protesters threw projectiles at police, who tried to disperse the crowd with tear gas.
   
The police later arrested 40 people. The demonstrators vandalised two shops and two cars, a police official said.
   
"Immigrants are outraged. The incident on Wednesday was the straw that broke the camel's back," Vasso Akrivou, a member of the group Expel Racism, told AFP.
   
Around 1,500 Muslim immigrants launched a demonstration on Thursday one day after hearing word of an incident involving the Koran.
   
Demonstrators said that when police stopped four Syrian immigrants to check their papers on Wednesday, one of the officers tore up a Koran and stamped on it.
   
The Greek police has opened an investigation into the allegations.
   
Police also used tear gas to disperse protesters who were throwing dustbins and stones on Thursday while a car was damaged during the clashes.
   
Greece is faced with a daily influx of immigrants from Asia via Turkey, many of whom are trying to reach Western Europe. Rights groups have complained of cases of police brutality against immigrants.
   
Interior ministry figures for 2008 show that more than 146,000 illegal immigrants were arrested in Greece, of whom 57,000 had arrived from Turkey.
   
The total number of illegal immigrants living in Greece is estimated to be 250,000, most of them Albanian nationals.

 

Date created : 2009-05-23

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