reporter Gil Shefler was assaulted in Athens on Tuesday while
trying to film a mob attack outside the National Archeological Museum, one of
the city’s main tourist attractions.
The incident began around 8 p.m.
when a group of about 20 masked men wielding batons started beating refugees,
migrants and homeless people in the middle of the street.
by calmly as dozens of foreigners fled in every direction. The assault, which
took place in the middle of the city in broad daylight with police nowhere in
sight, lasted some 15 minutes. Shefler was chased down a street by
several gang members after he took out his camera.
He was rushed to the
hospital where he received treatment for head and chest wounds. He was later
released and is in good condition.
Police said they were not sure who was
behind the attack. Sources said the culprits were either anarchists associated
with Syriza, a farleft party, who may have been cracking down on alleged drug
dealers and junkies, many of who are migrants and refugees; or members of Golden
Dawn, a neo-Nazi group, whose members are known to occasionally beat and stab
Shefler, who was on assignment in Greece for a story about
Golden Dawn, said he was lucky that his wounds were not more severe.
sad thing about the precarious situation here right now is that I cannot say
with certainty whether my assailants were from the far Right or far Left, but it doesn’t matter,” he
“In downtown Athens both often take the law into their own hands.
When I saw the viciousness of the attack on people outside the museum using
batons and sticks, I did my journalistic duty and snapped photos, and for that
offense I was brutally beaten.”
The financial crisis has exacerbated
already tense ties between citizens and migrants, leftists and rightists in
Greece. Over the past several years neighborhoods such as Exarcheia have
occasionally erupted in violence with clashes between various political
factions, police and ethnic groups.
“This country is going through a hard
time and its citizens have my empathy, but authorities need to know incidents
like these do not inspire confidence,” Shefler said. “Clearly, there is a
problem when mob violence can take place in broad daylight in the center of the
capital. More must be done to protect Greek citizens, migrants and refugees,
tourists and journalists, from the wave of violence on the streets.”
Athens Municipality did not respond to several press inquiries on
Wednesday. A press officer said there was no response because its email
service had stopped working.
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