Greeks Demonstrate against Racist Attacks

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Hundreds of Greeks joined a demonstration called by leftist groups on Saturday to protest against a rise in racist attacks on migrants attributed to a neo-Nazi group that is now in parliament.

At least 3,000 leftists and anarchists took part in the Athens protest, an AFP reporter said, chanting slogans against the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn which rights groups say enjoys protection by racist elements within the police.

"The government and the Nazis are working together," many protesters sang as they marched on parliament, shadowed by riot police.

The police department put the turnout at just 1,000.

Dozens of migrants have reported beatings on the street and even inside their homes in recent months, while unions say Golden Dawn members are also putting pressure on businesses to fire migrant laborers.

Migrant groups say more cases go unreported because the victims are too afraid to testify or are discouraged by police who turn a blind eye to the attacks.

The U.S. embassy in Athens earlier this month warned Americans to be wary of violent attacks targeting perceived foreign migrants.

"U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent in Athens and other major cities," the embassy said.

Earlier this year Golden Dawn elected 18 deputies to the 300-seat Greek parliament, and its approval ratings have climbed to over 10 percent in recent opinion polls.

The group has organized food handouts and blood donations, boosting its image in a country groaning under a third year of austerity and a five-year recession.

Parliament recently lifted the immunity of three Golden Dawn deputies accused of smashing up migrant stalls at two open-air markets so that they can face trial.

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