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Greek extremists turn up in Australia

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Greece is another European country that has recently seen the mainstreaming of the far-right and a resurgence of antisemitic rhetoric (see my earlier post on Hungary here). Previous AIJAC blog posts have discussed how the far right LAOS political party in Greece, which has an antisemitic track record, last year secured ministerial positions in a unity coalition, and now these ministers are joining Greece's mainstream conservative party ‘New Democracy', in the lead up to an election scheduled for May 6.

There is also another example of this worrying trend, the Greek far-right nationalist neo-Nazi group ‘Chrsi Avgi' known in English as the ‘Golden Dawn', which could enter Greek parliament at the upcoming election. The New York Times recently reported that Golden Dawn has broadened its appeal in Greece by "capitalizing on fears that illegal immigration has grown out of control at a time when the economy is bleeding jobs," and "may surpass the 3 percent threshold needed to enter parliament."

According to the Times, experts say that Golden Dawn is thriving where the Greek state is absent, "the most virulent sign of how the economic collapse has empowered fringe groups while eroding the political mainstream." University of Athens political scientist Nicos Demertzis said, "Greek society at this point is a laboratory of extreme-right-wing evolution".

Golden Dawn was founded in the 1980s by sympathisers of the military dictatorship that governed Greece from 1967 to 1974. Tasso Kostopoulos, an expert on Greek politics also notes, "Up to now, Golden Dawn was not politically dangerous but actually dangerous". No Golden Party member has held national office but party leader Nikos Michaloliakos was elected to the Athens City Council in 2010.

Regarding the issue of Holocaust denial, the Times reports:

"When asked if he believed that the Holocaust had happened, Mr. Michaloliakos said, ‘I think all history is written by the winners.' Another leading Golden Dawn official, Ilias Kasidiaris, was more blunt. ‘The main view in Europe is that six million Jews were killed. History has shown that this is a lie,' he said in an interview."

Apparently, Golden Dawn also has a branch in Australia and were reportedly spotted attending a Greek Independence Day parade in Melbourne on March 25.

The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee released a statement, stating that they were "deeply concerned about the presence of the members of the racist ‘Neo-Nazi' organisation at a recent Greek community event in Melbourne." The statement also said:

"While the Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee recognises the right of all ethnic communities to organise peaceful national day celebrations and cultural events, the open and unimpeded presence of members of racist groups at such events is totally unacceptable. Given the fact that members of the ‘Golden Dawn' group were wearing distinct black coloured clothing with the words "Golden Dawn" in Greek on the back of their attire, they were clearly visible and easily identifiable to all those present including the event organisers. As such, the neo-Nazi group should have been asked to leave the grounds of the Shrine immediately. Regrettably, they were permitted to stay.

In future, Australian political leaders need to take heed of who exactly they are addressing so as to avoid such embarrassing situations. The fact that the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Ted Baillieu, flanked to the right by his Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Mr Nicholas Kotsiras, addressed a gathering in the presence of a neo-Nazi group, at the Shrine of Remembrance of all places, is very disturbing. The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee calls upon community leaders to condemn this incident and ensure the exclusion of racist groups from future community events. Manifestations of racism and intolerance have no place in Australian society."

Sharyn Mittelman

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