19 Jun 2013

Immigrants Under Golden Dawn's Boot

By Jorge Sotirios
Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris speaking on Greek Independence Day.
Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris speaking on Greek Independence Day.

Jorge Sotirios is reporting from Greece on fascist party Golden Dawn. In his second report, he details its anti-immigrant campaign. Where is Golden Dawn influential, and who is in its sights?

On 29 May each year Greece commemorates the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In Athens a surge of grandparents, parents and children holding lit candles headed to Syntagma. Greek flags were flying everywhere; police were on every corner.

The organisers were Golden Dawn,  whose headquarters is located not in a dingy backstreet but on the main thoroughfare to Syntagma close to the Ministry of Justice and National Defence of Greece, which take up entire blocks. The meaning is obvious: the police and judiciary are on our side. 

Golden Dawn’s presence throughout Greece is revealing. Athens is the focus for their media activities, and their impact has significantly altered the mood in what was a vibrant and cosmopolitan capital prior to the crisis.

Hussein Ali Al Momani is President of the Jordanian Community, and a Greek citizen since 1984. He studied and worked as a surgeon in central Athens. He has noticed a spike in racism towards his 3500 members, a turnaround from five years before. Golden Dawn has exploited Greek antipathy towards Islam. “They think all Muslims are ‘Turks’. You become the instant enemy”, he told New Matilda.

Religious nationalism coupled with austerity has given Golden Dawn fertile ground to enact violence. The most vulnerable are not professionals like Hussein who live in leafy suburbs, but the “illegal migrants”, the lathrometanastes, whose human rights are compromised, with little recourse to police protection or the justice system.

At rallies in the no-nonsense streets of Nikaia and Aghios Panteleimonas, Golden Dawn politicians revel in the language of ridding Greece of the “polluted” races of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Petrou Ralli detention centre nearby houses over 1000 people from Somalia, Mali, Afghanistan and Iran. It's a constant reminder of the influx of lathrometanastes, but Golden Dawn supporters don't discriminate: they also target those who have lived for decades in Greece with valid papers - Egyptians and Pakistanis for the most part, who own mini marts or phone card stalls.

The police, a large contingent of whom vote Golden Dawn, run a protection racket for these immigrants, who would otherwise be left to the mercy of vigilantes. Tellingly, Golden Dawn does not attack Roma encampments in the bleak outer suburb of Gefiria, for fear of reciprocal beatings. Even the Police don’t intervene there.

In Piraeus, Athens' tough port, fanatical fans of the soccer team Olympiakos do double duty as political muscle. Similarly, AEK Athens midfielder George Katides played to the stands with a Nazi salute. This kind of behaviour hasn't been seen since 2007, when Greece played Turkey at the Karaiskaki stadium, and the “Blue Army”, led  by now Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros, chanted insults.

The offices of Golden Dawn are many, found down the dusty streets and brothels of the petroleum and energy zone of Aspropyrgos. Here, on a drab building off the freeway, a billboard with Nazi insignia advertises regular meetings with the disclaimer: “Not Open to the Public”. 

In Piraeus, the office is on the Heroes of the Polytechnic main street, while north in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city with a pronounced multicultural identity, Golden Dawn are on the top floor of a high rise by the port. Thessaloniki has been hit hard by the crisis; tourism and agriculture are keeping it afloat.

James, who arrived in 2008 with a working visa from Ghana, is one of the luckier ones. There are integrated channels for foreign workers here to access travel and health benefits. James said he had not felt the heavy hand of Golden Dawn, rather he felt it from the Athenian police. Profiled, then detained overnight, he was ultimately let go. They thought he was Nigerian, James tells me, stressing his disapproval.

The city of Xanthi saw beatings in May this year in the main plaza, near to Golden Dawn offices. Knives and guns were used. Xanthi’s Police Academy has been converted into a detention centre; there are fewer police graduating since wages were cut by 40 per cent. Migrants generally feel safe in Xanthi as many work the fields picking potatoes, yet few go out at night to visit its ritzy bars. Residents here are not ashamed to admit voting for Golden Dawn. Some do it “just for fun”, to be contrarian, to put the “cat among the pigeons.” This is a feeling consistent throughout Greece from disillusioned voters.

In view of three minarets, Komotini displays a long banner: “To Rid the Land of Filth”. Kostas, a 30 year old party secretary, granted me an interview, but the next day got cold feet. The upper brass of Golden Dawn is wary of all media and demands obedience to the party line. What Kostas admitted in any case was his view that Komotini Muslims were paid 500 euro a year by Turkey to wear headscarves, whilst foreigner agents were agent provocateurs to stir trouble. As for the mosque 50 metres away? “We get along fine with Muslims. Many support us.” he said.

The Evros prefecture in the tight corner of Greece ending at the Turk-Bulgarian border is the gateway of Europe. River border crossings in this region reached a peak between 2009 and 2011. Lathrometanastes would follow the rail all the way from Soufli to the port of Alexandroupoli to register for asylum. They were new arrivals vulnerable to nighttime violence, but there are Muslims of many generations here in Pomak villages.

These established minority groups are not yet targets for Golden Dawn. The protection of Muslim minorities in Thrace has taken place under what appears to be a tacit agreement between Golden Dawn and the army, whose bases are dotted along the border.

The normalisation of Golden Dawn in major cities is the most worrying aspect. Its imagery and rhetoric are accepted as part of the main game. They are not pariahs but a political party with all the rights and privileges conferred by statute. Many Greeks do not take offense at Nazi insignias in the 21st century, an absurdity given Greece’s determined resistance to fascism in the 1940s, for which they paid a heavy price.

I’d like to think a healthy economy and Greeks would be laissez-faire about immigrants just as they are about litter, smoking in your face, or parking cars anywhere they please. But in 2013 Greece is unraveling.

Discontent is coalescing into an oppositional force that uses racial and ethnic supremacy as a binding gel. The entire nation is bashed from pillar to post by austerity measures and has seen its suicide rates steadily increase. Under these circumstances a vote for Golden Dawn is seen as resisting the status quo.

Log in or register to post comments

Discuss this article

To control your subscriptions to discussions you participate in go to your Account Settings preferences and click the Subscriptions tab.

Enter your comments here

jackal012
Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2013 - 17:34

well, you dings should have read a bit of History and got some honest Historians. A few honest Economiists would have helped. Instead you blindly followed the Aristocrats and the Bankers into oblivion and now history is catching up. GOOD LUCK! I hope you make wiser choices this time around. Take of the blinkers and put you ego's back into your undies.

 After that smack your brain dead old man in the head for creating the mess or allowing it and the stupidity 80 years ago.

Reap what you sow or something?

jackal012
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 09:38

If we allow the stupidiies of insane Post WW2 Hayek economics to Continue, we won't need Gonski, Education or anything else period.

 

Global Warming is fear mongering to allow WW3 and thats where we are heading so ake up.

Racism is fear mongering to allow WW3.

 

This is what Paul Craig Roberts has to say: We should all take note, there is a world out there and we are not the only once on it.

Washington Is Insane --------  "Considering the utterly insane government ruling in Washington, if human life exists in 2020, it will be a miracle. All the worry about future Medicare and Social Security deficits is meaningless. There will be no one here to collect the benefits."
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

 

Also go to:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2VUbTdtlbg

Maybe Ian McCauley would like to apply his Economic brillance to these problems for a change and show us what he really knows.

 

This user is a New Matilda supporter. Tokujiro
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 15:33

Such a tragic situation for this ancient land which has brought us so much - including the older form of democracy (not the George Dubya BUSH model, I mean)! I remember the dark and sombre mood which prevailed in Greece during the time of the Colonels - and the far more optimistic time during the latter 1980s. So sad to think that xenophobia appears to be settling in - to a geographic location for so long a crossroads of peoples and cultures! We know in Australia that it is the coming together of different peoples and cultures - our diversity - which makes us connected to the world and to each other - along with reconciliation to the Indigenous peoples who long preceded the rest of us - making us a model to the rest of the world. I am not ignoring the remnants of racist thinking and dog whistling (as in to-day when Tony ABBOTT has called Visa restrictions racist - likening Julia GILLARD to Pauline HANSON - what on earth does he think he is doing if NOT dog-whistling) but these we can hold in check and name - without expecting knocks on our doors or worse.

cmardon
Posted Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 18:50

@jackal012

There are some honest economists around, including Greek ones. A recent book by YANIS VAROUFAKIS called The Global Minotaur attempts to explain the causes of the global financial crisis which is causing so much misery and social dislocation in Greece. The cause lies in Wall Street, not Athens. For more information, see his blog:

http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2012/10/06/the-global-minotaur-returns-introducing-the-second-edition/

There is also a review of the book at:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/wusa.12028/pdf

According to Yanis Varoufakis, a social system that is run by bankrupt banks is to be called a “bankruptocracy”, and he tells us that this is the system we are facing today. The Global Minotaur fell to its knees during the Crash, but as yet nothing has filled its place. It is possible for the society as a whole to rebuild its own future, and this comprehensive guide to why we are where we are can only serve to help us build a better one.

 

 

Rocky
Posted Friday, June 21, 2013 - 09:49

It's amazing, some Greeks remember the fall of Constantinople, but they seem to have forgotten  the fascist regime less than two generations ago, and the Nazi occupation.

jackal012
Posted Friday, June 21, 2013 - 11:57

Greeks are People with a much deeper History then Bully Boy Australia then only ever crawled up a dominant powers backside to insure its Landed Gentry would remain the 3rd richest in the world.

The Greeks have been their done it, they understand Humanity better, they understand that Empires come and go, humans do what humans do.

 

Most Greeks understand why mistakes were made and that is the way it went and cmarden is correct the Yanks are and were responsible for giving us the 1890 and 1930 depressions and he will know that Clinton brought on the GFC when he over turned the Glass & Seagall Acts in 1998 ??? which caused the Cartels to go ape again just as they did in the 1920 which led to the collapse in the 1930. and then on to WW2 after the Yanks had 11 long years of depression at an average of 17% unemployment.

 

My point is, now we are back their because dumbo's don't learn from History and get hoodwinked by smart mouther Economics Professors and the Media or the Presstitutes, as in whores.

 

 

Ozcloggie
Posted Saturday, June 22, 2013 - 10:52

I'm out of my league adding an opinion here but want Tokujiro to know that his (her?) perspective resonates with me.

con vaitsas
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 01:11

It is disturbing that Australians of Greek origin are impressed with this neo nazi party. Just have a look at some of English media sites for those of Greek origin or the letters pages of their newspapers for evidence of support for this party. These supporters seem to think the Golden Dawn party are the future of Greece and can solve its problems but firstly getting rid of anyone who is not Greek, so they have promised to remove refugees and migrants from the country if they dont leave voluntarily then they will be forced. They will ensure no non Greek is allowed to gain a job ahead of  Greek or be allowed acces to health or send their kids to schools. Unfortunately as the drastic austerity measures keep worsening, Golden Dawn are gaining more support with more of the public readily blaming foreigners for their hardships.        This is the worst economic crisis Greece has faced since the Civil war between 1945-49, for the first time since then people are homeless, not having enough money to buy food  and are being fed by voluntary organisations or get adequate health or pay for medications. I also find it ofensive that Greek Australians seem to blame the whole Greek population for the country's economic problems, but just as bad are those here in Australia who support this nazi party & dont realise if Australia had a similar party and there were economic hardhips here they would be amongst those ethnic groups asked to pack up and leave just as Golden Dawn  want to do to anyone who is not a "pure greek" in Greece.

phoneyid
Posted Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 18:57

Born with Greek blood and raised in Australia, I can assure you that we Aussies are worse.

For starters "Lathrometanastes" does not translate as "illegal immigrant"; it literally translates as "clandestine immigrant"; which is after all a far more accurate/honest description of their entry into Greece and their place in the system and is not a loaded term which bears the ASSUMPTION of "guilt" ie "illegal".

If Australia had anything resembling 20% population of clandestine immigrants like Greece; then the whole of Australia would invoke the same thoughts as "Cronulla".

Australians don't know of the 20% pressure and, truth be known, they don't care either; they are convinced enough by loaded terms and catch phrases "war on terror" etc to be swayed by their leaders' suggested problem and demand a solution.
The Greeks in Greece are more likely to be better educated and hold multiple degrees, and to speak multiple languages and to have studied logic.
They understand that the so called political "left" and "right" don't represent their interests and the main reason they voted for the "Golden Dawn" nationalists is as a protest vote... plain and simple and not because they reflect their beliefs.
It's far safer to go out clubbing in Greece than in Australia and Greece's youth don't go out packing knives like here.

Ignorant Australians, Americans, British like to think it's the Greeks that brought down the global economy and I believe many take pleasure, as some overtly do, in seeing the Greeks squirm and cry for it. And the so called Greeks raised in those countries, are often not much different from the group they grew up with.

How thick can we be; we have a monarch and think this is a democracy.

The Anglo-sphere should dispel the notion of the "White Man's Burden" and mind it's own business instead of viewing the rest of humanity as a mere chess board full of pawns. They (or "we") seem more interested about the ills of other nations and the right to life for cattle and jumps horses than we are for the multitude of deaths and maiming we've caused in the Middle East in recent years.
Education can fix it.... more TAFE courses in "hospitality".