Pakistanis in Greece continue to bear brunt of far-right violence


Well before the sun came up on January 17, 2013, Shahzad Luqman woke up, hopped on his bicycle and took off for work in a suburb of the Greek capital, Athens, reported Al Jazeera.

The 27-year-old Pakistani, who had been in Greece for six years, was going from his home in the Peristeri neighbourhood to nearby Petralona to unload oranges at the farmers market.

But before he could reach work, he was stabbed seven times and left to bleed out in the street.

When police swept the homes of the killers, they found leaflets published by Golden Dawn, the Greek neo-fascist party that currently has 16 seats in the country’s parliament.

The incident wrought trauma in Greece’s migrant community, particularly among Pakistanis, who are estimated to be around 50,000 in number and have been migrating in ebbs and flows to the Mediterranean country since the 1970s.

Javied Aslam, the 50-year-old president of the Pakistani Community of Greece and head of the Union of Immigrant Workers, remembers the day Luqman was killed as a turning point.

“They [had] targeted and attacked around 1,000 workers. And not one Golden Dawn member was punished until Luqman was killed and his two murderers were arrested,” Aslam told Al Jazeera.

“That was the first time anyone from their party was arrested.”

Five years later, Aslam said migrant workers continue to bear the brunt of far-right violence.

In 2017, the number of hate crimes motivated by race, skin colour and national origin almost tripled compared to the year before, according to police.

Qamar Zaman was among those attacked when he got off a bus in Athens. A group of young Greeks followed him, beat him up and fled with some of his belongings when passersby approached.

“My life was saved because of that [people approaching],” said Zaman. “Otherwise, I would’ve probably died.”