Greece’s Golden Dawn Party mirrors Nazi-like sentiment
Anthony Faiola of the Washington Post chronicles the rise of the Golden Dawn Party in Greece. Greece, the birthplace of democracy and philosophy, has been embattled by the far-right Golden Dawn Party. The members of the party wear black T-shirts emblazoned with modified swastikas (the symbol of the party). They sale stickers with the party slogan: “Get the Stench out of Greece.” The Golden Party, which won its first-ever seats in the Greek parliament this spring and has seen its popularity soar ever since, refers to immigrants (broadly defined as anyone not of Greek ancestry) by its “stench” reference.
There are reports of extreme measures undertaken by the party to suppress and eliminate immigrants. Allegedly the factions of the police work with them. Recently, one Golden Dawn legislator slapped a left-wing female politician on national television. Party supporters have also attempted to shut down performances of progressive theater. Some fear Greece could slide into a civil war if the country is forced out of the euro and into an even deeper recession. The country, which has been crippled by harsh austerity imposed by its international lenders, has seen the Golden Dawn party establish itself as an alternate authority.
The party has setup “pure” blood banks. They are pressuring restaurants to replace immigrant workers with Greek-born workers. Landlords have turned to the party to evict immigrants. The party provides health inspectors and lawyers sympathetic to its goals. The security workers wear black uniforms and have military haircuts. They salute one another with upraised fists. Elias Panagiotaros, national legislator of the party, states that ethnic Greeks: “have the right to protect themselves and their property from all these illegal savages.”
Faiola writes: “One in every 4 Greeks are without work. Youth unemployment is above 50 percent. The suicide rate is climbing. Medical treatments for cancer and other illnesses have become harder to get. Growing intravenous drug use is causing a spike in the rate of HIV infection…” Such a depressed economy has proven fertile for the Golden Dawn party. A recent poll showed 22% of Greeks view the party favorably. Even though nationalist and anti-immigrant sentiments are unfortunately not uncommon across Europe at this time, the Golden Dawn party is in a league of its own. In 1987, the magazine of the party published an issue hailing Hitler as “the great man of the 20th century.” Many polls show that most Greeks who support the party do so based solely on its anti-immigrant stance and that they largely dismiss the group’s more hard-core attributes.
The Golden Dawn party wants to “clean up” communities. The Greek government is reluctant to more broadly confront the party. They say they don’t like them but refuse to actually do anything to end it. Greek Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis states: “Greece fought the fascists in WWII, thousands of Jews ended up in crematoriums and now we are facing this threat again. This is being caused by the tough conditions Greece is being forced to endure. Extremists are taking advantage of the situation.” The situation is worsening because European policies allow EU countries to deport undocumented immigrants to Greece. 40% of Greek prisoners are of non-Greek descent.
On September 22nd, Ali Riasat Ghulam, a 47-year old Pakistani man who has lived in Greece for 22 years, was assaulted at a gas station. After verifying his immigrant background, two Greek men (clad in black) stabbed him with a knife, leaving him with three stab wounds that are still healing; including a 12-inch circular gash on his chest.
Unfortunately events like these are becoming more commonplace. As I stated a couple of weeks ago in my blog post “Greece: My Parent’s Homeland,” I yearn for the time that my parent’s homeland is revived to its glory days. To the country that my father proudly spoke of when I was a young boy. Sadly, because crooks in office have destroyed the economy the people of Greece are suffering. Factions like the Golden Party (which strikingly revoke images of the beginnings of Nazism) have emerged. I hope a modern-day Leonidas emerges with the courage to end such sentiment. With the courage to bring grandeur back to Greece in so that the country is no longer the butt of so many jokes.
Twitter: @adrakontaidis & @talkrealdebate