Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA-MPA)
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday welcomed 11-year-old Afghan schoolboy Amir to the Maximos Mansion for a meeting that was also attended by Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas. Last Friday, the boy’s home came under attack by unidentified racist vandals who smashed windows with stones and bottles, leaving a cardboard sign reading “Go away, back to your village, go away.”
The 11-year-old was chosen to carry the Greek flag at an Ochi Day parade at the end of last month. However, he was not allowed to carry the flag and instead carried the school’s sign. Political parties and migrant groups condemned the attack.
The Prime Minister donated a Greek flag to the boy, as “consolation prize”.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) expressed its serious concern over the racist attack on Friday on the home of an 11-year-old Afghan student and his family.
UNHCR Representative in Greece Philippe Leclerc “strongly condemned” any acts of violence resulting in refugees being injured or seriously hurt and their safety threatened. He said such attacks affected the very positive impact of the accommodation program over the past two years. This program has been warmly welcomed and supported by host communities and local authorities around the country, showing how people can live together in dignity and safety.
“Such an attack against people escaping from violence cannot be tolerated and it should be punished”, he said.
Leclerc added, “We are standing by the family and we will work with the Municipality of Athens and Athens Development and Destination Management Agency to ensure that everything possible is done for the safety and welfare of refugees included in the programme.”
The Agency provided the rented apartment to the family.
Unknown individuals on Friday attacked the home of an Afghan family, whose 11-year-old son Amir had been chosen by lot to be his school’s flag-bearer in the October 28 national holiday parade in the Dafni area. Under unspecified circumstances, the boy had eventually marched holding up a sign with the school’s name, instead of the Greek flag.
According to police, the attack occurred in the early hours of Friday, around 3:00 after midnight, when the unidentified perpetrators threw rocks through the windows and caused damage to the home occupied by the 11-year-old and his family.
The case is being investigated by the Hellenic Police Racist Violence Department.
According to the boy’s mother Arizu, the rocks were thrown into the bedroom shared by her children, filling the room with broken glass. Along with the stones and a beer bottle found on one of the beds, the family also found a cardboard sign telling them to go.
“I was shouting and calling for help. The children had woken up, crying; they were very afraid. The children’s room was full of glass. A beer bottle was on the bed. The stones kept coming, one after the other. I panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I notified the owner of the house, who came down and called the police. We are going to die. They will kill us and we don’t know the reason,” the boy’s mother told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA).
The family on Friday asked the Athens Municipality’s temporary refugee housing programme to move them to another home.
Education ministry officials, speaking to the ANA, said that the ministry was aware of the incident and working closely with the ministry of citizen protection in this matter. In the meantime, there is an ongoing ministry investigation into the events that led to Amir holding the school sign instead of the flag during the Oct. 28 parade.
Athens Mayor George Kaminis, on his part, condemned the attack and asked for an immediate investigation, stressing that the municipality was determined to ensure an ‘open’ Athens where extremism, xenophobia and racism were relegated to the margins. This resolve would only be made stronger by fascist tactics seeking to terrorise, he added.