As the Greek government retreats from a proposal that would rein the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party that has 18 seats in Parliament, the police – often said to be aligned with the extremists – are so worried about growing violence blamed on the far-rightists that they’re calling for a “re-evaluation of security needs” in the country.
The warning comes in a secret police report which the newspaper Kathimerini said it had seen and which refers to “commando-style” assaults by members of far-right organizations against immigrants, noting that 84 such attacks were recorded last year, nine linked to Golden Dawn, which denies beating immigrants.
The document notes that far-right groups and parties have thrived due to a growing sense of insecurity among many Greeks due to a burgeoning population of immigrants, a fear of “the erosion of the nation’s cultural characteristics” and an alarming rise in unemployment. Such groups “walk a fine line between constitutional order and the principles and values of a democratic society,” the document notes.
That came as Europol issued a report highlighting an intensification of activities by far-right organizations in several European countries as well as cross-border co-operations that are apparently aimed at creating an “anti-Islamic” front within the EU.
The Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner last month joined a growing chorus of Golden Dawn critics that include NGO’s, the UN and human rights groups, and said there was enough evidence of violence perpetrated by the party to show it could be banned, but after initially moving to take on the party, the government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras – who is also anti-immigrant – has backed off.
An anti-racism bill aimed at controlling Golden Dawn by banning from politics MPs found to have been involved in racist violence will be “reassessed” before its submission to Parliament, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said.
The bill, which also foresees lawmakers using Nazi imagery or salutes in Parliament having their immunity lifted and losing their right to stand for office, had been scheduled to be put to public consultation last week but was withdrawn.
Roupakiotis said that State Minister Dimitris Stamatis and the government’s general secretary, Panayiotis Baltakos, would review the anti-racism bill as “its social parameters must be examined more thoroughly.” Roupakiotis had said the bill was “basically ready” just before that and added that all political parties, apart from one, were ready to embrace new reforms that would criminalize the phenomenon of racist violence and xenophobia.
Kathimerini said the government doesn’t want to make martyrs of Golden Dawn MPs, many of whom have been linked to racist attacks. A head-on clash with Golden Dawn could end up boosting the ultra-right party by making it appear to be persecuted, some government officials sources fear, and cut into the fringes of Samaras’ New Democracy Conservatives, shifting votes to Golden Dawn.
The Communist Party (KKE) is also said to have voiced objections to the bill which, according to the party, “supports and includes European Union decisions and laws which, on the pretext of tackling racism, target and curb the political activities of parties that oppose the exploitative system and the EU.”