Until the 60s, it used to be one of the most beautiful areas in the center of Athens. Today, Agios Panteleimonas Square, with the commanding Orthodox Church, has turned into an unofficial war zone among certain Greeks and the rapidly increasing immigrant population, and a neighborhood of poverty and violence.
During the 90s, many legal and illegal immigrants flocked to this area in search of cheap accommodation. As the years passed and the number of immigrants kept increasing, with many of them sleeping around the square or squatting abandoned houses, the Greeks got wary of their presence and conflict began.
In 2008, certain residents of the area, with the support of extreme right-wing groups resolved that, if the state was reluctant to do something, they would act themselves. Citizen patrols appeared, using violence to repel the immigrants. The message sent to the foreigners was sharp and clear: they were not wanted.
In the past 2 years, the once only sporadic incidents against immigrants gradually became more frequent and more violent; the streets around the square are no longer safe for dark-skinned people.
Hatred has become deeply rooted, and the opposing sides are trapped in a gridlock with no common ground.