Violence against legal and illegal immigrants has surged to "alarming proportions" as Greece suffers through one of the world's worst economic contractions since the Great Depression, the New York Times finds. The far-right Golden Dawn party made huge gains in the country's recent elections, and its supporters, who have vowed to "rid the land of filth," have stepped up attacks on immigrant homes and businesses. Human rights groups say police routinely look the other way, and sometimes even hand out Golden Dawn's phone number to citizens who complain about crime and immigrants.
A legal Pakistani immigrant who owns three businesses in a gritty Athens suburb says scores of motorbike-riding extremists arrived in his neighborhood recently and told him, "You’re the cause of Greece’s problems. You have seven days to close or we’ll burn your shop—and we’ll burn you." When he called the police, they told him that they didn't have the time to help immigrants. He says he is considering leaving the country, "but even if every immigrant were kicked out, would that solve Greece’s economic problems, create jobs, or bring higher salaries or pensions for Greeks? It’s the crisis that’s destroying jobs, but we are getting the blame."