Football hooligans’ brawl with Pakistanis ‘poorly managed’ by Greek police: envoy | Pakistan Today

Football hooligans’ brawl with Pakistanis ‘poorly managed’ by Greek police: envoy

  • Ambassador Khalid Usman says one Shakeel Ahmed was ‘seriously injured’

  • Says football fans were violent to anyone who was in their path

LAHORE/ATHENS: Pakistan’s Ambassador to Greece Khalid Usman Qaiser Tuesday confirmed to Pakistan Today that another attack has been made on the Pakistani community living and working in Greece on Sunday, after scuffles erupted between Greek locals and a group of expats.

According to details, riot police in Athens had to intervene in clashes between Greek football club fans heading for a game and a group of Pakistani community members celebrating the traditional Islamic month of Rabi-ul-Awal to commemorate the birth anniversary of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

It is being speculated that the matter was racially motivated and may once again have had to do with the rising far-right group in Greece the ‘Golden Dawn.’ The attack comes fast on the heels of other similar attacks yet to be solved that were ascribed to the Golden Dawn, which they have since vehemently denied.

The matter on Sunday in the Greek capital escalated to such an extent that riot police had to break up the scuffling communities using tear gas and stun grenades.

Speaking exclusively to Pakistan Today, Khalid Usman Qaiser said that earlier reports had been almost accurate.

“This report is very close to factual position. The only difference is that these football fans were violent to anyone who was in their way. This was poorly managed by local police, but soon they controlled the situation. It started with both sides abusing and culminated in a scuffle,” he said.

He further informed that only one person had been injured and was recovering quickly.

“One Pakistani, Shakeel Ahmed, was seriously injured. He was discharged from the hospital after [receiving] first aid. I spoke to him; he is still in pain but improving,” the ambassador told Pakistan Today.

Earlier, when a group of Pakistanis had been attacked, the Greek government, opposition and the Golden Dawn had given many assurances to the Pakistani ambassador as to the safety of the community in the future. While it cannot be said that this incident was overtly racially motivated, it is being considered a possible hate crime by investigators as the persons attacked were celebrating a religious festival.

The brief but ferocious clashes happened in Omonia Square, the centre of the Greek capital. While there have been no serious injuries or arrests, law enforcement had to use tough anti-riot methods to stop the violence. A video from the scene showed utter mayhem in the street, as Pakistanis tried to defend themselves, with some fighting back.

Members of the local Pakistani community were celebrating the birth of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) with a procession in one of the squares in downtown Athens. At the same time, supporters of the Thessaloniki PAOK football club were in the area, heading for a league game against Panionios.

Although escorted by police to the sporting venue, the hooligans began insulting the immigrants and attacked them. According to local media, there were around 200 fans, while some 800 people took part in the Muslim march.

Additional reporting by Abdullah Niazi

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