(Photo: Muslim immigrants pray during Eid al-Adha celebrations in front of Athens university November 16, 2010/Yannis Behrakis)
Dozens of far-right activists and local residents threw eggs and taunted hundreds of Muslim immigrants as they gathered to pray in a central square for Eid al-Adha surrounded by a protective cordon of riot police.
Greece, which has become the main immigrant gateway to the European Union, has a growing Muslim community and tensions between locals and incomers have run high in some Athens areas such as Attiki square, the scene of Tuesday’s incident.
(Photo: A Greek Orthodox priest (with beard in rear) sits outside a cafe with other Greek neighbours as Muslim immigrants pray during Eid al-Adha celebrations in Attiki square in Athens November 16, 2010/Yannis Behrakis)
Athens’ Muslim community is without an official mosque and prayers are usually held at cultural centres or community halls or private apartments around the city. The Muslim community in Greece is estimated at about 1 million, in a country where most people are Greek Orthodox Christians.
While the Muslims prayed, some locals shouted obscenities from their balconies and waved Greek flags. Leaflets that depicted pigs — an animal Muslims consider unclean — were scattered across the square.
(Photo: Muslim immigrants pray near a leaflet thrown by extremists to insult their religion, during Eid al-Adha celebrations in central Athens November 16, 2010/Yannis Behrakis)
“There is a (unofficial) mosque near here but we’re afraid to go there,” said a 30-year old migrant from Bangladesh, who gave his name as Shamasul. “Sometimes Greeks in the neighborhood threaten to kill us.”