Neo-Nazis and Right-Wing Extremists Gaining Support in Greece
The Municipal Theater in Piraeus, Greece, was bathed in an eerie light, with yellow floodlights and red torches combining to illuminate the theater’s neoclassical façade, which now served as the backdrop for a macabre spectacle: At least 1,000 neo-Nazis and their supporters had turned out for a march, and red flags bearing a large, black swastika-like symbol flew from the building’s front steps.
The right-wing extremist party Chrysi Avgi, or Golden Dawn, convened this demonstration on a Thursday in February to protest an arson attack on its local party office — and to make another display of its strength.
Ringed by a group of brawny toughs, party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, 55, bellowed: “No one can stop us — not the bombs, not all your filth. We will triumph!” His listeners, many of them hidden beneath black hoods, replied with a thunderous “Zito! Zito!” The phrase literally means something like “Long live!” but the affect is more like “Heil!” — and deliberately so. Many also raised their right arms, while the police remained in the background. The right-wing extremists then took their burning torches and marched through the downtown of this port city. Foreigners and any young people dressed in alternative-looking clothing made sure to clear out of the streets before they arrived. The scent of danger hung in the air.
Right-wing thugs have been spreading fear and terror in Greece for months. The worse the financial crisis gets and the harsher the budget cuts imposed by European creditors are, the worse the terror gets on the streets. Foreigners have been attacked, homosexuals chased and leftists assaulted. Some were beaten to death. There are parts of Athens in which refugees and minorities no longer dare to go out alone at night, and streets that are echoingly empty. Foreign merchants have had to close their doors, while journalists and politicians who criticize these developments receive threats or beatings.
Ta Nea, a leading Greek daily, has described conditions here as similar to those of Weimar Germany. Vassiliki Georgiadou, a political science professor in Athens, likewise calls it “an atmosphere like in the 1930s in Germany against the Jews and their businesses.”