From Munich to Vienna and from Stockholm to London, verbal attacks launched against Greek migrants are on the rise, according to recent reports. The Greek debt crisis and all the negative media publicity that the country and its “lazy, unwilling to work or pay their taxes” people received over the past year have shaped public opinion in many European countries.
The phenomenon is most evident in Germany, where the local Greek communities have decided to take action and reverse the current negative attitude towards the Greeks.
In contrast to the solidarity support movements organized in France, the anti-Hellenic behavior of some extreme groups seems now to be spreading in more social levels across Europe. More and more incidents are being reported by Diaspora Greeks who have been mocked for their origin.
Sometimes the mere presence of a Greek is enough to cause the innocent – yet disturbing – comments and mockery from others. Very often Greeks are called to apologize for the Greek politicians and explain the debt crisis. Waiters are often wondering out loud whether their Greek customers will have enough money with them to pay for their food.
“We are now facing problems with our everyday lives. Problems we never had before. They see us in a different way than before. There are many German real estate owners who do not renew their contracts with Greek stores and there are others who stay away from Greek restaurants and shops” said Mr. Thanasis Krikis, president of the Parents Federation of Bavaria, Munich. “I went one day to work and my colleagues were reading the Bild. The daily had a picture of Greeks burning the German flag during a rally in Athens. They turned around and told me ‘You don’t have anything to eat, we give you our money and you call us Nazis… you’re ungrateful’”.
In London, where Greeks are reportedly excelling in their businesses and academic studies, a similar attitude is being shaped. With humor and a sense of teasing, people are always wondering whether the Greeks will work as hard as required or will prove to be as lazy as described in different negatively charged surveys.
In Sweden people tend now to see the Greeks as the incarnation of corruption and unwillingness to pay taxes. In some cases, Greek migrants in the country have a lower salary than their Swedish counterparts.