NEWS

Greeks protest against Golden Dawn attack on Communists

Thousands demonstrate in Athens after supporters of neo-Nazi party leave nine seriously injured amid fears of civil war

Helena Smith in Athens

theguardian.com, Friday 13 September 2013 19.37 BST

Members of the Golden Dawn party guard a stage during a rally in Athens earlier this year

Members of the Golden Dawn party guard a stage during a rally in Athens earlier this year. Photograph: Yorgos Karahalis/Reuters/Corbis

Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens on Friday to protest against a violent attack on Communist party members by black-shirted supporters of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party which left nine people in hospital with serious injuries.

In what was described as a murderous attack – and the most serious violence since the extremist group was elected to the country’s parliament last year – about 50 men wielding crowbars and bats set upon leftists as they distributed posters in a working-class district of the capital late on Thursday.

In a statement KKE, the Communist party of Greece, said: “The way in which they acted and the weapons employed … are evidence of the murderous nature of the attack. Among the Golden Dawners, some of whom had covered their faces or wore helmets or [party] shirts, were their leaders, well-known fascists and thugs.”

With the Communist party preparing to stage a youth festival in the coming days, Thursday’s midnight assault comes amid mounting fears that the far right is trying to cultivate an atmosphere of civil war in Greece. Prominent members of the virulently anti-immigrant Golden Dawn have openly predicted that the debt-stricken country is heading towards civil war.

Dimitris Psarras, a writer who has chronicled Golden Dawn’s rise over almost four decades since the collapse of military rule, said: “Their agenda, clearly, is to create a climate of civil war, a divide where people have to choose between leftists and rightists.”

Psarras argues the attack in the dock-side district of Perama – a Communist stronghold where Golden Dawn has made considerable inroads in recent years on the back of anger over austerity measures – was indicative of that strategy.

“It was very well organised and the most serious incident yet,” he told the Guardian. “They are no longer only targeting immigrants in the middle of the night. They are deliberately increasing tensions, expanding their agenda of hate, by going for leftists.”

Earlier this year, the Muslim Association of Greece received a letter bearing the insignia of the group and an implicit threat that its members would be “slaughtered like chickens” unless they left the country. Marking the anniversary of the September 11 attacks this week, the party posted a vehemently antisemitic diatribe on its website denouncing “world Zionism [as] the architect of global terrorism”…

(Read the full report on The Guardian’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/13/greeks-protest-golden-dawn-attack-communists)

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