PAKISTAN’S GREEK TRAGEDY 



Detention center in Amygdaleza, just outside of Athens. Nikos Pilos


FOR MIGRANTS SEEKING A BETTER LIFE, GREECE CAN BE CRUELLY INHOSPITABLE.
BY NIKOLIA APOSTOLOU

It was one of his usual journeys. Late every Thursday, Shehzad Luqman would bicycle through the streets of Athens to the house of a farmhand, a friend who would often give him fresh produce. On Jan. 17, Shehzad set out on his bike, met his friend, but never made it back. Residents along a portion of Shehzad’s regular route say they heard the sound of a crash, cries for help, and a motorbike speeding away. The 27-year-old Pakistani immigrant was dead; he had been stabbed in the chest by two neo-Nazis in their 20s dressed in black, according to eyewitness accounts. The next day, protestors laid siege to the city center. With Shehzad’s body in a wooden coffin in the middle of the throng, immigrants and Greeks protested side by side against the rising tide of xenophobia that has engulfed their country.

Shehzad, who came to Europe seeking a better future, was a casualty of the Greek economic crisis. Six years of negative growth have left the country devastated, its economy resembling that of a country at war. Unemployment, 11 percent in 2007, is now 30 percent—and it’s nearly double that for young Greeks.

All this has fueled anger in the streets and resentment especially toward immigrants who mop up the low-paying and few jobs that are available. Hate crimes are on the rise, making life for refugees and labor fleeing war zones or poverty in Asia and Africa even grimmer. In such circumstances, Shehzad’s killing was not unusual. “This attack was not an isolated case,” says Amnesty International’s Marek Marczynski. “We have seen a dramatic escalation of racially motivated attacks over the recent past.”

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