Residents of a Greek city slated to host a fresh wave of asylum seekers took to the streets to protest the move, amid growing anger over the influx of refugees that have poured into the country.
Anti-migrant protesters in the northern city of Thessaloniki called on Athens to expel all illegal immigrants and close the border to migrants. Footage from the march showed demonstrators carrying banners and Greek flags, while an activist at the front of the procession held an icon of the Virgin Mary.
Activists think that their Orthodox beliefs are under siege by an “Islamic threat,” according to Ruptly video agency.
Thessaloniki and surrounding towns have been selected to host thousands of migrants that Athens wants to transfer from overcrowded facilities on the Greek islands to the mainland.According to reports, over the weekend about 900 people were transferred from Greek islands to sites on the mainland. The government is planning to relocate 20,000 refugees in total by the end of the year.
Greece has taken in “40,000 migrants and refugees” in the past four months alone, Migration Minister Giorgos Koumoutsakos told local media. He added that the mainland must “show solidarity” with border regions that have “borne the brunt” of the migrant influx.
Athens has repeatedly been at odds with Brussels over the European Union’s migrant policy. The country, already hampered by economic woes, has been one of the main entry points for refugees coming to Europe – and has been shouldering the burden of housing tens of thousands of asylum seekers.
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