According to Greek police, unknown attackers have placed a severed pig’s head outside of an Islamic studies center in Athens, as well as anti-Muslim slogans. So far, nobody has been arrested for the attack. The attackers sprayed an obscene slogan against Islam on the sidewalk outside the building, put a Christian cross on the door and threw paint at the walls.
In recent years, bigotry towards Jews and Muslims in Greece has increased significantly, thanks in large part to the fast rise of Golden Dawn, a Nazi-inspired far-right party. The Golden Dawn first entered Parliament in 2012, but all of its lawmakers are currently facing trial for running a criminal organization that uses violence to spread its beliefs and impose them upon others. Not surprisingly, the rise of the Golden Dawn has coincided with a worsening Greek economy; it’s a known fact that a poor economic situation breeds a rise in extremist beliefs.
Earlier this year, there were a string of anti-semitic incidents throughout Europe, as far right politicians achieved victories in the Parliamentary elections. Many Europeans used the violence on the Gaza Strip to express their latent anti-semitism, and Jewish-owned businesses and synagogues were targeted by extremists. Now, ISIS’ attacks in the Middle East have given rise to Islamophobia amongst Europeans.
Greeks and Muslims have had a long, tempestuous relationship with each other dating back over 1,000 years. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Greek Byzantine Empire fought back Muslim invaders from Turkey, which ended with the Islamic Ottoman Empire conquering Greece. From the 15th to 19th century, Greece was under Ottoman rule, which only ended after a bloody Greek war for independence. Because of this, there has been an inherent dislike among Greeks of Muslims in general, which has only been exacerbated by an influx of Islamic immigrants.