By Connie Hong
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe
ATHENS, Greece — Dubbed as the “neo-Nazi” party of Greece, Golden Dawn’s image worsened after the party’s spokesperson, Ilias Kasidiaris, physically attacked political rivals on live television last Thursday.
Kasidiaris was invited to appear on the political talk show along with members of six other parties that won parliamentary seats on May 6. Tensions increased as the topic of discussion turned from the country’s natural resources to its political history. Kasidiaris traded insults with two female left-wing politicians before throwing a glass of water at one and hitting the face of the other three times.
After the incident, the Greek government spokesperson, Dimitris Tsiodras, condemned the assault while an arrest warrant was issued for Kasidiaris. Neither Kasidiaris nor his party, however, accepted blame for his actions. Golden Dawn referred to the assault as a “truly unfortunate moment” and maintained that it was provoked. Kasidiaris has taken a step further and threatened to sue both the victims.
“What is a man if he can hit a 58-year-old elected woman in this country? He has damaged this country more than any old commie,” said one of the two women attacked by Kasidiaris, Liana Kanelli, using a term that the Golden Dawn spokesperson had insulted her with.
Rena Dourou, the other woman assaulted by Kasidiaris, said that the attack revealed the true nature of Greece’s Golden Dawn movement.
“What we saw [on television] is something that happens almost every night in some dark places here in the centre of Athens against women or immigrants but they don’t have the rights, the privileges, to condemn all this in front of cameras,” Dourou said in an interview with the Guardian. Dourou added that on the same day as the assault, members of Golden Dawn injured 15 students and 3 immigrants at a Greek university campus.
The language and strategy that Golden Dawn employs have been criticized as paralleling the methods of Nazism. The party’s campaign slogan reads boldly as “Let’s rid this country of the stench,” conveying its strong desire of expelling Greece’s immigrants. Another criticism is directed at the party’s emblem, which eerily resembles the swastika.
Although the party denied all allegations of violence, it has a notorious reputation of terrorizing immigrants, leftists, journalists, and women. Several reports of violence against immigrants have emerged over the past few weeks, with the latest on the arrest of two Golden Dawn members in connection to an attack of a 31-year-old Pakistani man.
Dourou has expressed concern over Golden Dawn’s recent political success as it managed to capture 7% of the votes during Greece’s general election last month. The party has also alarmed Europe by garnering 21 of the 300 seats in Parliament. According to political analysts, many votes came from policemen and officers in a time when police brutality against immigrants are on the rise.
Athenians, like Maria Misaridaki, attributes the party’s success to voter ignorance, “The people voted for them because they didn’t know what Golden Dawn was. They didn’t know they’re a new form of neo-Nazis.” The issue of voter ignorance might worsen in the near future, as the party issued a statement threatening to boycott the media if it continued with coverage unfavorable to the party.
For further information, please see:
The Guardian — Greek MP: TV assaults reveals true nature of far-right Golden Dawn party — 10 June 2012
Digital Journal — Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris threatens to sue victims — 9 June 2012
Bloomberg — Greek Government Condemns Golden Dawn Assault On Politicians — 7 June 2012
Huffington Post — Ilias Kasidiaris, Greek Golden Dawn Politician, Assaults Two Female MPs On Live TV (VIDEO) — 7 June 2012
International Business Times — Golden Dawn: Greece’s Neo-Nazi Party is Europe’s ‘Dark Stain’ — 7 June 2012
Searchlight — MPs from Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn arrested over racist attack — 2 June 2012
News + Rescue — Greece: Police Brutality and Violence Against Immigrants on the Rise; African Woman Kicked — 26 May 2012