Israeli journalist beaten by blackshirts in Athens

Journalist working for the JC in Athens left bloodied after fascist gang attack

By Gil Shefler, June 14, 2012
Israeli Gil Shefler after the assault

Israeli Gil Shefler after the assault

When I made plans to go to Greece to investigate the rise of Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party that won almost seven per cent of the vote in the recent elections, I knew I was putting myself in some danger. After all, I intended to visit its headquarters and interview its members, who have been linked to a spate of attacks on foreigners. Still, when I was attacked by assailants in Athens, it came at an entirely unexpected moment.

I was walking outside the National Archaeological Museum at 8pm - still daylight in Greece in the summer - when suddenly I saw dozens of foreigners running in every direction.

Behind them was a group of about 15 masked men wearing black shirts and wielding batons. I instinctively took out my camera to film the attack, but before I captured any images, the assailants turned on me.

I was beaten in full view of dozens of passers-by - who were too scared to intervene - until I lay bloodied on the pavement. My attackers, who spoke Greek, told me in broken English they wanted my camera, but I held on to it for dear life.

After a few minutes, they left and, after 20 minutes or so, I was rushed to hospital where I was treated for wounds on my head, back and arms. A cut to the head required four stitches, but I suffered no fractures. I was lucky.

The following day, I had to cancel a meeting with an NGO that helps illegal migrants who are assaulted but, from a journalistic point of view, I could afford it. I already knew what that was like.

Last updated: 9:49am, June 15 2012