Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I have spent about two hours now pontificating about how to start this weblog. In the end I've decided to just plunge in and start. I have been reading a lot of blogs these days especially some coming out of Iran. In fact, I was inspired to start this after reading the one by HOSSEIN DERAKHSHAN. The other day we were performing in a square here in central Athens, Greece. BAD MATHEMATICS that is. I had been asked to announce the publication of a book called ‘O dromos yia tin Omonia’ (‘The Road to Omonia’). It is a compilation of 20 writers commenting on a racist attack that happened here in October 1999. Pantelis Kazakos took to the streets around Omonia and shot 9  people he saw as foreigners. He killed 5 of them and  injured four others. The two most seriously injured were Tommy Kofi and Timothy Abdul. Tommy Kofi, from Ghana, still carries a bullet in his head. He lives in a hostel and still need medication for the epilepsy he suffers as a result of the shooting. Timothy Abdul came from Nigeria and had been living here for two years when Kazakos shot him three times from behind. One bullet destroyed one of his lungs, another just missed his spine and the other hit him in the stomach.  He now lives in a tiny basement flat. Neither men can work. All the proceeds from the book will go to these two survivors of this horrific attack. One of the troubling things for us "foreigners" in Greece is the lack of debate on the issue of racism and xenophobia here. The issue disappeared from the news very quickly, with little comment. The Greek people think of themselves as completely non racist. This is a dangerous fantasy. It's is ignoring, and therefore, accepting what is really going on. I hear it everyday. The mistrust and dislike of Albanians, the downright disgusting treatment of the Roma community, the anti-Jewish sentiments and the general unease about "foreigners". Wake up and smell the roses. Greece is not the place you still imagine it is. Racism is on the rise. Unemployment is up, crime is up and the financial situation here is dire. A huge number of Greeks blame foreigners for their problems (as people do everywhere) But Greece is in denial and that means there is no debate. Sadly, I think there will be a rise in racist crimes and the police are totally ill-equipped to do anything about it. They are as racist as the police anywhere. There are hundreds of incidents of police brutality and harassment against foreigners here. I urge everyone to buy this book. If you don't read Greek, buy it for as many of your Greek friends as you can afford. For those outside Greece go to KASTANIOTIS or email for information  HERE . I am not sure if you can order the book outside Greece but you can try. WE MUST START THE DIALOGUE and a good place to begin is to educate yourself and people you know on the reality of racism in this country. Challenge every xenophobic, anti-Semitic, racist comment that you hear. And you'll hear a lot. P.S Do not buy flowers from the shop opposite our house. The man is a racist.

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