Will public sentiment against immigrants increase even further in Greece?

Human Rights Watch says that Greek police ignores rising attacks on immigrants.

Questions:

1. Would you agree with this assessment that the Greek police ignore rising attacks on migrant or not, and why?

2. How would you describe the general attitude towards immigrants in Greece? How does the society perceive immigration, as something positive, or more as a problem?

Answers:

Ioannis Michaletos, Political & Security Analyst-Consultant

1. There has been a noted increase in attacks against immigrants especially since the beggining of the economic crisis over the past 3 years or so. In most high-profile cases the Police was able to uncover the persons responsible. The issues is centered around the so-called “low profile” cases where the victims dont press charges or does not report the crime. In such cases, its difficlut to estimate what the reaction of the Police is, since there is no official record of an attack. The main reason why some immigrants don’t report attacks against them is that they reside in the country without visa-legal documents, thus they are also commit a felony so they fear they will be deported if they appear in the public. For the moment it can be assessed that crime against immigrants in Greece as HRW is classifying it is in medium levels compared to other EU countries. There are sporadic incidents but not on a scale that would be characterized as an “everyday problem”.

2. The attitude is negative. According to opinion polls, the negative percentage amongst the public reaches more than 85%. That is around the illegal immigrants in the country which nowadays are much more than the actual legal ones. Due to the economic crisis and the rising unemployment, undocumented immigrants require work by accepting half of the wages and without social insurance. That consequently creates a negative public feeling against them. It is interesting to note that legal immigrants (mostly from Balkan countries) have extremely negative attitude against the illegal ones (from Asian countries) by seeing them as their main competitors for jobs.

A second main reason is criminality. According to the most recent report by the Greek Police for the first quarter of 2012, 60% of the so-called “heavy crimes” – homicides, armed robberies, intended injuries, street violence, rapes, etc- was committed by immigrants. Since the percentage of them in the population is around 8% the multiplication of their presence in the heavy criminal sector, causes public outcry against them.

My estimation is that due to the rising unemployment and economic recession in Greece, public sentiment against immigrants will increase even further.

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