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Tourists of Color Warned Away From Greece

Tourists of Color Warned Away From Greece

Greece has been a popular destination for tourists over the centuries, thanks to the nation’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. Yet, the past few years in this European country have been marked by escalating tension and human rights violations as Greece struggles with debt, austerity measures and civil unrest. The nation once famous for its vases and philosophers has entered the news more frequently for rioting, strikes and human rights abuses committed against immigrants.

As a major entry point into the European Union, Greece is a hotspot for immigration, and the nation has become increasingly hostile to visitors. The government’s camps and holding facilities have become concerns for human rights advocacy groups, while vigilantes patrol Greek cities and ports looking for people whom they think don’t belong. This has led to beatings and other abuses committed, not just against undocumented visitors, but against people who are in Greece entirely legally, including tourists.

Racism in government policy has been compounded by the rise of Golden Dawn, a notoriously anti-immigrant group. Golden Dawn has particularly close ties with the Greek police, who are entitled by law to stop people and demand identification. In recent months, numerous tourists have been stopped and illegally held solely because of their skin color, including Black and Korean visitors. Tourists, visiting professors, businesspeople and other legitimate guests of the nation have been held despite having passports and other proof that they are in the country legally.

This is understandably raising concerns among many travelers of color, who have warned each other through their own informational networks that visiting Greece may be dangerous and other destinations should be considered. They aren’t the only ones, though. The U.S. State Department’s travel advisory for Greece includes a statement buried far down the page that should be ringing alarm bells:

“There has been a rise in unprovoked harassment and violent attacks against persons who, because of their complexion, are perceived to be foreign migrants. U.S. citizens most at risk are those of African, Asian, Hispanic, or Middle Eastern descent. Travelers are urged to exercise caution, especially in the immediate vicinity of Omonia Square from sunset to sunrise. Travelers should avoid Exarchia Square and its immediate vicinity at all times. The U.S. Embassy has confirmed reports of U.S. African-American citizens detained by police authorities conducting sweeps for illegal immigrants in Athens.”

Effectively, Athens has become a Sundown Town, one where being nonwhite after dark is extremely dangerous, and some neighborhoods are too unsafe to venture into at all. This is chilling news, and will undoubtedly give many people currently planning their vacations room for pause, if the nation’s human rights violations weren’t already cause for concern.

It also raises the question of whether external pressure may finally force reforms in Greece and a turn away from increasingly violent, xenophobic policies. Greece relies heavily on revenue from tourists, business conferences and other events involving travelers, and if people start boycotting the country for their safety or out of solidarity with other travelers, Greece’s hand may be forced. Its racist anti-immigrant policies could crumble under scrutiny from outsiders, and Golden Dawn’s popularity might wane in a nation where people see the full ramifications of the group’s policy advocacy.

Related articles:

Greece Rounds Up Immigrants in Athens, Will Deport 1,600

Euro Crisis: A Big, Maybe Bad, Week for Greece

Hanging By a Thread in Greece: Rescuer Seeks Miracle

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Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

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12:45PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

This article paints a very grim picture of Greece:(

3:06PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

OK, I'll put aside all of my nasty, angry hostility to say fare thee well. It's been fun. And you're as slippery as an eel; don't kid yourself.

With the Deepest, Double Standard of Respect That I Can "Muster"
Your Friend in Spirit

Namaste, Om Shanti

2:54PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

It sounds, unlike you, I'm pretty straightforward. If I knew how to pull up the old threads I would, but you sound so hostile and nasty, I have a feeling that it wouldn't matter anyway.

Bye, Sandra.

2:50PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Oh, by the by, was this Sandra the Muslim one of the good ones? Did you ascertain that because she was so respectful? So she is Sandra the Respectful Therefore OK Muslim Because She Wasn't Rude to Me And Didn't Have a Double Standard on Respect? I see.....

2:46PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

OUCH!! That hurts me deeply Beth-Ruth. But we'll part ways if that's what you think is best. Drop me a line any time. Oh, 'a Sandra that I knew a few years ago' I'm sure. Way to try and wiggle out of that one (R U Sandra the MUSLIM?") - not nice Ruth-Beth, not nice at all. Very sneaky. Bring it on any time. Until we meet again.

With the Deepest Respect,

2:28PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Sandra I thought it was pretty obvious that I was trying to figure out if you were a Sandra that I ran into a few years ago. I would say that as a Muslim, she was a lot more polite than you seem to be able to muster.

I posted a comment here that you seem to have a rather blatant double standard to be disrespectful when it suits you.

Agreed, respect is earned. So I guess it's no loss to either of us to part, especially that you haven't earned mine.


2:15PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Hey, where's your last comment Ruth-Beth? Was that a personal message you sent me? What's up with that? If you're gonna say it, say it on the forum.

This has been fun Ruth-Beth, but it's time for me to go. Let's spar again another time.

Respectfully yours,

2:10PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Beth-Ruth - YOU ASKED ME if I was a friend of some guy, and if I WAS A MUSLIM - very bad manners Beth-Ruth. I don't think we can be friends after all. Respect is earned.

1:44PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

I don't know about this one Ruth/Beth.... you might be heading in the wrong direction. YOU asked ME if I was a MUSLIM, and a friend of this Scott person. Doesn't sound like he's the sort you would be pals with. I think you're foolin' with me. Naughty Ruth/Beth.

1:38PM PST on Feb 25, 2013

Deliberately making fun of his name. Respectful?

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