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Greece boosts patrols at Muslim sites

02. August 2011. | 07:28

Source: MIA

Greek police says security checks have been increased at Muslim prayer house and other immigrant sites following the July 22 massacre in Norway.

Greek police says security checks have been increased at Muslim prayer house and other immigrant sites following the July 22 massacre in Norway.

A spokesman for the Greek Police told The Associated Press that the beefed up "monitoring" had been ordered amid concerns raised by the shooting rampage that claimed 77 lives. EU authorities warned at an emergency meeting last week about the risk of copycat attacks.

Greece has conditions that may make it ripe for an extreme-right rise: an economy on the verge of collapse and unwanted status as Europe's No. 1 gateway for illegal immigration. It has suffered a spate of hate attacks by far-right groups.

Last November, the leader of a neo-Nazi group won a seat on Athens' city council, with an unprecedented 5.3 percent of the vote.

"There has been an increase in monitoring at these sites since the events occurred in Norway," police spokesman Thanassis Kokkalakis said.

Human rights campaigners and groups representing Muslim immigrants have warned of a jump in racially motivated attacks since the country was plunged into financial crisis in late 2009.

"I receive threats all the time," Naim Elgandour, the Egyptian-born head of the Muslim Association of Greece, said in an interview.

"Things have gotten much worse lately. It's an alarm bell from the rest for Europe."

Elgandour said at least 10 makeshift mosques - basements and coffee shops converted by immigrants to use as prayer sites - have been damaged in firebomb and vandalism attacks in the past year.

Kokkalakis said violence by far-right groups has seen "periodical increases" but added that most cases of violence with a "racial component" investigated in Athens turned out to be the result rivalry between criminal gangs.


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