(Reuters) - Thousands of immigrants marched in Athens on Friday to protest police sweeps and a rash of racist attacks in Greece as the country struggles to pull itself out of a huge debt crisis.

Greece is a major gateway for mostly Asian and African migrants trying to enter the European Union. They face increased hostility as the country struggles through its deepest post- World War Two recession and record unemployment, propelling the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party to parliament for the first time since the fall of a military junta in 1974.

About 5,000 protesters marched to parliament holding banners reading "No Islamophobia" and "Neo Nazis out!" in one of the biggest anti-racism marches in Athens in recent years.

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