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Anti-racism bill sent to parliament

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The bill raises prison sentences and financial penalties for racist attacks, and is due to be debated on May 21

An immigrant pushes a shopping trolley with scrap past a wall covered with a graffiti in Athens on January 29, 2013. Racist violence has been rising during the recession (John Kolesidis, Reuters) An immigrant pushes a shopping trolley with scrap past a wall covered with a graffiti in Athens on January 29, 2013. Racist violence has been rising during the recession (John Kolesidis, Reuters) An anti-racism bill the government had was due to be tabled in parliament last week has finally been presented to the house. The bill had gone back to the prime minister's office for consultation, according to Eleftherotypia newspaper, but was returned to parliament on Wednesday unchanged. It is to be debated on May 21. 

The bill raises financial and prison penalties for racist offences, which have been on the rise during the six-year recession. On Tuesday, unknown assailants beat a 20 year-old Syrian immigrant with wooden batons outside Attiki metro station in central Athens. The assailants were wearing black clothing, the trademark colour of the far-right Golden Dawn party. The Syrian man was taken by other migrants to Doctors of the World, where first aid treatment was administered. 

"He bore marks from punches to his face, and he was bleeding from the nose," said Nikitas Kanakis, former head of Doctors of the World. A Syrian boy aged 14 had been attacked two days earlier. His assailants cut his face with a broken glass bottle. 

On the morning of the same day, five unknown arsonists burned a shop in the Agios Panteleimonas neighbourhood of western Athens, which was owned by an immigrant from Cameroon. Apparently the arsonists had visited the shopkeeper the previous evening and abused him verbally, saying that they would burn his shop. Police say they have arrested two of them and are looking for the other three. 

These are just two of the most recent incidents of what is turning into an epidemic of racist behaviour. A new watchdog formed by 30 NGOs, 1against racism, recorded 154 attacks last year, or one every two and a half days. Earlier this year police created a dedicated Service Against Racist Violence within the police force to receive reports of racist acts and initiate arrests. 

 

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