More than 1,000 Muslim migrants and leftists demonstrated in Athens Friday over an alleged police insult to the Koran, a week after two similar protests degenerated into clashes with anti-riot police.
The protest was called by leftist and anti-racist groups after a police officer allegedly tore up some sheets of paper with extracts from the Muslim holy book belonging to an Iraqi migrant during an identity check last week.
"We want this officer put on trial, and we ask the government to protect our prayer sites in Athens," said Zuri, a Moroccan protester.
"But we intend to set a good example and refrain from violence, Islam is a religion of peace," he said.
Scores of police on foot and on motorbikes were mobilised to maintain order and keep the migrants who marched on parliament from coming into contact with a few dozen neo-Nazi militants staging a street gathering a few blocks away.
Greece's main Muslim and migrant organisations distanced themselves from the migrant demonstration, preferring to take judicial action instead.
"Our problems can be solved by dialogue, not demonstrations," said Ahmet Moavia, head of the Greek Migrants' Forum.
"The real agenda is migrants' rights in Greece which include issues of religion," he told AFP.
"Muslim Arabs will not participate because there is a political agenda which has nothing to do with Islam," said Naim El Gadour, chairman of the Muslim Union of Greece.
"We filed a complaint against the officer, we chose the path of justice and peace and we will adhere to it."
Rights groups report an increase in racist attacks on migrants in Athens in recent weeks. Last weekend, unknown assailants set fire to a basement flat housing a mosque and injured five men from Bangladeshsleeping inside.
More than a dozen migrants and police were injured last week in clashes that marred two days of Muslim rallies over the alleged insult to the Koran.
Scores of cars and a handful of shops had their windows smashed.
Police made 46 arrests at the time.
Muslim groups have demanded an apology over the incident which the government has so far failed to give. Calls to identify the officer who allegedly tore the Koranic verses have also been ignored.
Community elders also note that Greece has failed to honour years of pledges to build a mosque and a cemetery in Athens where over 100,000 Muslims live.
There are around one million migrants legally living in Greece, roughly nine percent of the country's population, most of them from neighbouring Albania.
Another 80,000-100,000 migrants are believed to be residing in the country illegally according to the interior ministry.
So, are we to believe the Muslims were not aware that their organized demonstration fell on the anniversary of the fall of Constantinople?
I call b.s.