Greece just can’t get out of its own way. Acting under a law enforcement strategy meant to protect the economy from foreign workers, police detained and beat a Korean tourist whom they mistook for an illegal immigrant. This story echoes a similar one from last year, in which police beat an African American tourist until he lay unconscious, as well as several other similarly ugly attacks on immigrants and foreigners. The toxic mix of economic hardship and rising xenophobia in Greece is producing more of the same in a vicious cycle, harming the economy by driving tourists away, as Max Fisher reports for the Washington Post:
In August, Greece instituted a new law enforcement strategy, termed “Operation Xenios Zeus,” to detain and export illegal immigrants. It’s hard to qualify the program as a success. Of the 60,000 people detained, only 4,200 have ultimately been arrested. But it’s also produced shocking stories like Hyun Young Jung’s, of well-meaning tourists who come to spend money and are rewarded with detention and, sometimes, a beating.
As the Post story notes, tourism accounts for a whopping 15 percent of Greek GDP. A country clinging to the Eurozone by its fingernails would do well to put a decisive end to such horrible racist abuses against innocent tourists.
This is the ugly side of Greece on display. The U.S. State Department has posted warnings that African Americans face danger in Greece. Frankly, if African Americans aren’t welcome there, we don’t think many other Americans will want to visit.