In Greece, The Rise Of Hate Groups Poses A Real Challenge

Greece has experienced a rough couple of years with economic recession, homelessness, and general despair about the direction the country is heading. It also has an emerging problem – the rise of right-wing hate groups.

The Golden Dawn is one of the right-wing hate groups that has emerged in the last several years in Greece fed by discontentment over the economy. To the shock of some, they were able to garner 7 percent of the vote in recent parliamentary elections.

A recent Jerusalem Post editorial demonstrates the concerns expressed outside of Europe about the rise of Golden Dawn.

“The  arrests of Golden Dawn members cannot be separated from the overall concern  about anti-Jewish actions in Europe. Golden Dawn is a highly visible, nasty  party, but the larger context is anti-Semitism that manifests itself not only on  the Right, but also among the extreme Left and Islamists and in less pernicious  but equally disturbing calls to ban circumcision and kosher slaughter,” concluded the editors.

The Greek Ombudsman’s office recorded 253 racial attacks were committed in 2012. Greek authorities have – understandably – responded with vigilance to the increasing violence, but James Kirchick believes that they are in danger of hurting their cause by engaging in overzealous prosecution.

“Combating the fascist impulses of Greeks—indeed, of any European populace beset by economic uncertainty and a diversifying population—calls for a deeper and more long-term effort than the banning of a political party. And it begins with acknowledging that this particular problem does not have a ‘solution,’ in the sense that a solution implies ‘eradicating’ fascist sympathies altogether,” he writes.

Kirchick believes Golden Dawn is suffering from its own exposure.

“The more times its young men beat women on television, the more times they deny the oppression of Hitler’s occupation of Greece, the more fed up the average voter will become. Far from being a group of concerned young patriots eager to dole out bread to poor pensioners, Greeks are now seeing that the party is really just a band of low-IQ, racist degenerates in need of a hobby”

Others disagree that Golden Dawn will be defeated until government institutions step up to aggressively take on these hate groups.

Tolis Malakos points to the recent arrest of the head of police in the Greek town of St. Pantheleimon as a sign that the root of Golden Dawn’s rise is not entirely related to economic distress or the rise of immigrants.

Writing on OpenDemocracy.com, he says those are myths that are “not only false but that also exonerates from responsibility successive governments, the police and the judiciary.”

What is needed is a bold response from politicians and the justice system because the fight against fascism “will be a marathon, involving political and not only judicial means. But judicial means are crucial since we are talking about a criminal organization that was allowed to take root and grow for far too long.”

 

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