Anti-Fascist Protesters Back Refugee Children in Greek Schools


FILE - Photo: Outside Oraiokastro’s Town Hall. Photo: Eurokinissi/Fani Tripsani

THESSALONIKI - Demonstrators supporting refugee children attending Greek schools gathered in the town of Oraiokastro’s main hall Feb. 28 to also denounce extremist attempts to keep them out of the classes.

Holding banners reading “We accept refugees, isolate the fascists,” the demonstrators said they wanted to show solidarity with refugee children attending schools in the town near Thessaloniki.

The gathering was organized by the local women’s association and members of the People’s Committee of Oraiokastro, and also included a march through the town, media reports said.

That followed a rally a week earlier outside the 1st Elementary School as the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA-led coalition opened schools to the children of some 64,000 refugees and migrants stuck in the country with the suspension of a European Union swap deal with Turkey because of the overwhelming number of asylum applications.

Protesters against allowing the children into the schools, including the Patriotic Union of Greek Citizens of Oraiokastro, have tried to keep them out by locking themselves to the school gate and shout at the refugee students who were being protected by teachers.

Riot police earlier had to be called to the elementary school when fights nearly broke out between the protesters against the students and anti-Fascist elements.

The Patriotic Union protesters waved Greek flags and chanted patriotic slogans as a video whoed some 15 refugee children filing off a bus and into the school building amid loud boos from the extremists. The ultra far-right Golden Dawn party, accused of having neo-Nazi ideology, also has been protesting against the children being in Greek schools.