The head of the far-right extremist party Golden Dawn, which showcases Hitler’s Mein Kampf and who has used the Heil salute, has denied it has a Nazi orientation and claimed it is being ostracized by the media and in Parliament, where it has 18 seats.
Nikolaos Michaloliakos told SKAI TV that his party does not support Nazi ideology, although it is anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic and uses Nazi symbols and references on its website. Its symbol is an ancient Greek meander, which resembles the Swastika.
Other Greek political parties expressed outrage after Michaloliakos used a Heil salute during a speech to young supporters in Goudi, eastern Athens. Manolis Kefaloyiannis of conservative New Democracy accused Golden Dawn of “trying to present the fascist tragedy of the country when it was under occupation as a fascist comedy.”
The PASOK Socialists accused Michaloliakos of “exploiting the crisis and promising a Greece made of the stuff that led Europe to disaster.” In his speech, Michaloliakos had said “some party members may greet like this but their hands are clean and they have not stolen,” an apparent reference to rampant political corruption in Greece.
He said Golden Dawn, which has risen from obscurity to third place among Greece’s political parties with 14 percent of the vote in a recent survey, is a “nationalist” party and denied reports that the party sends out raiding parties to attack immigrants, although they have been shown doing so on videos, and three of its members – including party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris – had their parliamentary immunity stripped after they were charged with crimes.
Michaloliakos complained that other lawmakers accused of crimes were allowed to keep their immunity, but said constant criticism in the press has only served to heighten its support. The Greek Orthodox Church has been silent on the party’s protests against a play it declared blasphemous and the arrest of a man on blasphemy charges for using his Facebook page to parody a long-dead monk revered by many Greeks. A cleric who spoke out against the party’s activities said he received death threats.
Leftists have criticized the party, with a leading Communist, Liana Kanelli – who was slapped in the face by Kasidiaris during a live television show – nearly breaking down on SKAI TV as she said she feared the rise of fascism would overwhelm Greece.
Manolis Glezos, a member of the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA,) and a hero for working with a friend to take down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis in 1941 during the early stages of World War II, condemned Golden Dawn as “an insult to Greek democracy.”
He said the entrance of Golden Dawn, often characterized as a neo-Nazi party, into the Parliament of Greece, a country which fought the Nazis tooth and nail and resisted fiercely against the invasion, was “one of the darkest pages in the history of Greek democracy.
Glezos said that Golden Dawn was not purely fascist or Nazi “but a party that essentially violates the good of the nation and with characteristics of a criminal organization which does not hesitate to plot crudely, exploiting the instincts of a society that is collapsing.”
(Source: Kathimerini, SKAI)