May 6, 2012
It started, as many days do in Greece, with a trip to the kiosk to buy cigarettes. Still half-asleep, Panayiotis Roumeliotis was surprised to be asked to show his identity card by two young men with shaved heads. It was his first direct contact with the vigilante groups that have become a feature of everyday life in some areas of the Greek capital.
“They were calling themselves the residents association but they were just fasistakia (little fascists),” said the 28-year-old.
Over the last two years, Mr Roumeliotis has watched the central Athens neighbourhood of Ayios Panteleimonas, where he grew up, undergo an ugly transformation. Taking the bus on another morning soon after, a gunshot shattered the back window and a gang of men forced the driver to stop. When the doors opened, they came on to the bus and started to assault the non-Greek passengers. The attackers were wearing T-shirts from the right-wing extremist group Golden Dawn. While panicked people were trying to escape from the bus the men were hitting them with flagpoles.
“They were beating people with the Greek flag,” said Mr Roumeliotis.
When the police arrived they stood off until the thugs had finished. When he asked the police why no one had been arrested one of the officers replied to him: “Why, did they do something to you?”
This article was posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:29 am