Tuesday, August 07, 2012

greece rounds up thousands of immigrants in weekend sweep

LATimes | Greek police arrested more than 1,000 immigrants and detained thousands more in a massive weekend sweep that comes as the strapped nation has increasingly soured on hosting foreigners.

The vast roundup in Athens was jarringly named Xenios Zeus -- after the Greek god known as the patron of hospitality. Police stopped and detained 6,000 immigrants, out of whom 1,600 were arrested for illegally entering Greece and sent to holding centers, according to the Associated Press. Greek media reported that similar sweeps are in the works for other cities.

Leftist political parties slammed the crackdown as an assault on human rights that had fostered fear and racism, while the extreme right Golden Dawn party accused the government of not actually sending anyone back to a home country, merely holding a “badly organized PR stunt,” Athens News reported.

Public Order and Citizens' Protection Minister Nikos Dendias defended the roundups as necessary to keep Greece from unraveling, arguing that the country faced the biggest “invasion” since the influx of the ancient Dorians thousands of years ago. Dendias had earlier claimed that "unbelievably high" numbers of immigrants were involved in crime, according to Greek news reports.

As for naming a roundup after the god of hospitality, Dendias reportedly told Greek media that the name was fitting because immigrants were living in miserable conditions, crammed into decrepit apartments after being conned by smugglers into thinking that they would be able to get jobs.

“Now they will return to their home countries. ... It's the best thing that could happen to them,” Dendias was quoted by the Kathimerini newspaper.