A Greek Orthodox Church leader said he has been receiving threatening phone calls after speaking out against the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that is on a rampage against immigrants, gays, Leftists, Capitalists and those it considers blasphemers.
The party rose from obscurity to gain 18 seats in Parliament this year on an anti-immigrant, anti-bailout, ultra-religious platform and has been tied to a number of assaults.
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, a town in West Macedonia, said the calls have warned him that, “We shall burn that commie,” an apparent reference to Communists, who Golden Dawn, an extremist right-wing party, sees as one of the many enemies it believes is undermining Greece. There have reportedly been many threats made against the church, whose officials said they believe are coming from Golden Dawn and other ultra-nationalists who want all immigrants out of Greece and have a “Greece for Greeks” ideology.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, leader the of the New Democracy Conservatives, also supports tossing out illegal immigrants and has not denounced Golden Dawn, although one of its Members of Parliament has been stripped of immunity for allegedly being involved in assaults against immigrants.
Metropolitan Pavlos criticized Golden Dawn after members of the Greek far-right party protested against the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi in Athens, a play that depicts Jesus and his Disciples as gay and living in Texas.
In an interview with Imerisia newspaper, he described Golden Dawn as “uncivilized,” adding that the party’s acts “have nothing to do with ancient Greek civilization nor the Gospel.” He added: “We all have to take a clear stand on the Golden Dawn issue… we have to preach the word of God, which has nothing to do with the acts committed by members of Golden Dawn,” he said.
That came as Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michalolioakos gave the Nazi salute during a speech at a party rally. “We may sometimes hail like this, but our hands are clean,” he said while flashing the heil sign that was required of Nazis to recognize Adolf Hitler. Despite a barrage of criticism against the party’s platform and agitating tactics, it has risen to third place among major Greek parties with about 14 percent of the vote. It received 0.29 percent in 2009 before Greece began imposing austerity measures on the orders of international lenders.