Outrage as Greek nationalists plot offensive event near migrants

The group wants to hold a barbecue with alcohol and pork next to a migrant camp

Migrants are seen inside a refrigerated truck found by police, after a check at a motorway near Xanthi, Greece, November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Stavros Karipidis NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
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A Greek nationalist organisation has sparked outrage after plotting to hold a barbecue with alcohol and pork near a migrant camp.

United Macedonians planned an event for this Sunday next to the Diavata camp, near Thessaloniki in northern Greece, in protest at the “colonisation of Greece and Europe” by “overwhelming” illegal migration.

Greece is one of the main stops on the route of people trying to enter Europe via Turkey from conflict-ridden countries with large Muslim populations such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The group claimed on Facebook that “most illegal immigrants do not come from countries of war” and accused “cruel” NGOs of supporting migrants on their journey to Greece and Europe.

“Because in the end… Greece belongs to the Greeks! Here in Greece and Europe we have our morals and customs,” the group said.

One particularly provocative post on United Macedonians’ main Facebook page has a man wearing Islamic clothes with an alcoholic drink superimposed next to his face.

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas warned it was “ill-advised to add fuel to the fire".

In parliament, Greek MP Christos Giannoulis, of the left-wing Syriza party, accused United Macedonians of sadism and said they were being provocative against people of different faiths.

But he was criticised by Konstantinos Kiranakis of the New Democracy party who said the position of Mr Giannoulis was “unacceptable” and limited the rights of Greek citizens.

Greece is struggling to cope with the largest number of migrant and refugee arrivals since 2015.

Most of them are reaching Greek Aegean islands close to the Turkish coast by boat but many come overland, using a river border crossing with Turkey. In August, Cyprus asked fellow EU member states to take in 5,000 of its migrants and ease the "disproportionate pressures" it faced.

Greek police earlier this week found 41 migrants hiding in a refrigerated lorry during a routine check at a motorway in the north of the country. The migrants were mostly Afghans.