Efforts to Stop Racial Violence Cause Rifts in Greek Leadership

Conflicting legislation to tackle anti-immigrant attacks


Greece's coalition government was in disarray Thursday over efforts to crackdown on growing racist violence, as majority conservatives and their center-left partners clashed over the best way to tackle anti-immigrant violence.

The embarrassing rift in conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' government occurred amid pressure from the European Union and human rights groups to toughen anti-racism laws.

Greece, in its sixth year of recession — and with the highest number of immigrants entering the European Union illegally — has seen a sharp rise in violence against non-European immigrants, as well as a surge in support for the xenophobic and extreme right Golden Dawn Party.

Samaras' center-right New Democracy party refused to endorse draft legislation overhauling laws on racial equality, and instead submitted more limited amendments to laws passed in 1979.