After a contentious confrontation in the Greek Parliament that led to a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party being ejected for violating rules against insulting colleagues, it was reported that it was a leftist MP who yelled “Heil Hitler!” in mockery.
Panayiotis Iliopoulos, was removed from a session on May 17 after using derogatory language and as he was escorted from the chamber the Hitler shout was heard three times.
Golden Dawn denied it was any of its members who said it and after a day of confusion, Greek media reported that it was Giorgos Pantzas, a former film actor who now belongs to the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) who yelled the reference to the Nazi leader in an apparent attempt to ridicule Golden Dawn.
The incident sparked a vehement exchange between conservative New Democracy, which leads the coalition government, and SYRIZA. ND said in a statement that it would not allow “democracy to become a subject of dispute between the two extremes of the political spectrum.”
It had also been reported earlier by Greek media that it was Golden Dawn’s parliamentary spokesman Christos Pappas who was responsible but that proved wrong as well.
The incident came after Iliopoulos had ignored warnings from the Parliament’s presiding head, Ioannis Dragasakis, to stop insults, aimed primarily at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, but also at all other MP’s who weren’t from Golden Dawn.
Iliopoulos was standing and talking but quickly became engaged in an argument with Dragasakis, who was sitting in for the Parliament’s President Evangelos Meimarakis.
Dragasakis, who is a SYRIZA lawmaker, gave him some leeway to talk but became upset when Iliopoulos started calling Parliamentarians “goats,” and “filthy, scurrilous” people.
“Go away before we send you away,” Dragasakis said, obviously offended at the verbal assault on the Parliament, which often is engaged in by Golden Dawn MP’s whose leader he despises the body. Golden Dawn won 18 seats in last year’s elections after rising from obscurity.
Lawmakers are not allowed to engage in personal attacks against each other but Golden Dawn MP’s routinely ignore the body’s rules and a number of them have had their immunity from prosecution lifted pending prosecution on a number of criminal charges.
Iliopoulos said Tsipras, who has often criticized Golden Dawn, is “sleeping the sleep of the just,” and was in denial about what the extremists believe are the country’s problems, and that the Leftist is dreaming of becoming Prime Minister.
After Dragasakis warned he would expel him, Iliopoulos kept up his barrage of insults and wouldn’t be silenced, calling other MP’s “scoundrels.” The 46-year-old lawmaker shouted, “You are goats. You are jokers,” before the leaving the chamber.
Iliopoulos’ Golden Dawn colleagues protested by walking out on the proceedings. Golden Dawn said that SYRIZA MP Stavros Kontonis was the one who shouted “Heil Hitler” at them.
Speaking to enet.gr, Kontonis firmly denied saying these words, explaining that “we heard them say ‘Heil Hitler’ and complained. Some of us may have repeated it in an ironic way.”
Golden Dawn described Iliopoulos’ expulsion as an act of “unprecedented censorship.” The incident occurred during a discussion on the hate speech bill which is expected to be tabled in parliament in the coming days.