Last night about 800 - 1000 people marched through the centre of Thessaloniki and many more in Athens in order to protest the government's anti - immigrant measures which include the rounding up of those without proper papers (which are virtually impossible to get from the authorities), and the deportation without trial of any foreign national who is accused of a crime which carries a sentence of three or more months.
The ruling New Democracy party has also announced that it will set up internment camps throughout the country to house those who do not have a legal right to stay in the country. It should be noted that at present Greece grants asylum to 0.1% of those who apply for it and has been repeatedly criticised by Amnesty International, other European governments and the UNHCR for its treatment of refugees and immigrants.
On the other hand the latest poll carried out by Public Issue found that 93% of those questioned thought that Greece could not take in any more immigrants and that 62% said that immigration is probably harming Greece.
Stung by his party's poor showing in the recent European elections prime minister Kostas Karamanlis has decided to get tough on the issue of immigration in order to avoid losing more support to the far right LAOS party. With the possibility of general elections in either September or March 2010 at the latest Karamanlis is hoping that a tough stance on crime and immigrants will help bring back voters who have deserted the party in droves after two years of corruption and influence peddling scandals involving several government ministers.