“Greece belongs to Greeks!”
Shouts rang out at a demonstration held by far-right Greeks protesting against refugees last weekend in Piraeus, a port city south of Greek capital Athens. More troubling was the chant, “Knife into the heart of every antifascist!” That chant would be taken into action with fists and clubs.
In Greece there are still over 50,000 refugees and migrants are trapped by the closed borders, with over 4,000 having waited in the port of Piraeus for over 2 months. The Greek far-right sees increasing numbers of refugees as an opportunity for gatherings and pushes the agenda “Against the Islamisation of Europe.” Similar anti-migrant gatherings are being organised all over the Greece lately.
“We are many hundreds here today and this is just a beginning. Our heroes who were fighting against Islam once are the ones leading us,” spokeperson for Greek parliamentary neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn Ilias Kasidiaris stated from an improvised stage, where the slogan “Stop Islam” was written.
Just an hour before Greek rightists reportedly carried out an attack, led by Golden Dawn MPs Yiannis Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris. They attacked the group of anti-fascists who gathered to protest a Golden Dawn rally. Among those attacked were also journalists, including a Greek TV channel cameramen who was ambushed by a man swinging iron bars.
Golden Dawn, the third biggest political party in Greece, is facing charges on the grounds that it is a criminal group. For years their members have been involved in violent attacks, murders or attempted murder cases against immigrants, gay people and many political opponents. Prosecutors allege involvement in those assaults goes all the way to the top. However, since the trials are still pending, many of the individual defendants were seeing during Friday’s attack and appeared to be taking active part.
Unusually from Friday’s attack was also the role of the police. Much of the public was outraged that the police didn’t do very much to stop the violence. Indeed, rather than intervene, the police were seen to have created a kind of shield for the attackers and didn’t arrest even one, while one of detained was well known member of anti-fascist Athens group. He found himself covered in blood and bruises, and was later released.
“Police held a member of the anti-fascist group in order to allow fascists led by Kasidiaris to beat him,” the leader of United Movement Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (KEERFA) Petros Constantinou stated after incident.
Doubts have been raised in the justice system and especially in the security forces. Twenty-eight members of the left-wing party Syriza wrote a letter to the minister of justice asking in part, “Have the perpetrators of the violence and especially the perpetrator who attacked the reporter with the iron rod been identified?”
Anti-Islam rallies continued also on Sunday when when newly established far-right party Popular Greek (shortcut in Greek: Lepen) organised another anti-migrant rally in port Piraeus. The founder of new party Christos Rigas (previous member of Golden Dawn) announced that party will try to establish friendly relations with the French far-right National Front of Marine Le Pen.
Judging from Sunday’s gathering supporters of new established far-right party will use similar violent methods as their brotherhood party Golden Dawn.
On Sunday police intervened between two groups in order to prevent a confrontation. However threats towards journalists continued this time.
Around 30 young men, many of them with covered faces and sticks holding flags of Celtic cross, decided to enter the port area but police prevented them. Three of them were arrested after violent incidents.
The refugee crisis is pushing Greece towards an unpredictable future. Far-right parties (many of them openly sympathizing with Naziism) are searching for the right moment to rise.