The Greek MYPLACE team at Panteion University of Social And Political Sciences present their latest blog, discussing the rising influence of racism and fascism in Greece and the sharpening of the struggle for the minds and hearts of young people.
A few days after our previous post about Golden Dawn’s influence on Greek youth and particularly on secondary education students , the subject came up again in the media, because of two new incidents.
Burning immigrants for fun: “We went to burn the Pakistanis for fun. There wasn’t anything to do for the afternoon and we decided to go and hit them”
In the first incident, four young Greeks (aged 17, 19, 20 and 23) were arrested outside Athens for having attacked the house of two immigrants from Pakistan, who live permanently in Greece and work in a printing shop. They had caused damages to the house and tried to set fire to a motorbike outside it. According to media reports, the young people arrested said that they had nothing against immigrants in Greece and that they attacked the house “for fun”, because they didn’t know what to do during the afternoon.
Moreover, one of them revealed that he had been the victim of a racist attack when he was living with his parents in Germany as immigrants. Two of the arrested are students in private colleges; one works in a company selling military equipment and one is a high school student. All of them denied any relationship with extreme-right organizations and they explained their actions as “a result of boredom”. However, the police are sceptical about it, since, they say, they have found indications that the attack had been planned.
This incident reminded a last August case, when five young people (15, 17, 18, 18, and 19 years old) had attacked with a knife and had injured immigrants from India in Rethymnon, Crete.
Antifa struggles in schools and in the streets
The second incident was a violent fight between students of Albanian origin and fellow students supporting Golden Dawn in Hersonesos, a village 25km outside Heraklion, Crete in the aftermath of the incidents during the party’s leading group two-day political tour in Crete. In this case, the clash between the two groups of high school students took place because of antifa comments on facebook about the incidents during GD’s final stop in the County of Heraklion.
A couple of days earlier than the students’ clash, Golden Dawn had organized an event in Hersonesos village, but an antifa group from the city of Heraklion organized a counter-rally and protest causing great anger to participating GD members and MPs.
The following video is from the events in Hersonesos that provoked the a/m students’ clash: In the video, the GD MP Elias Kassidiaris threatens the chiefs of the police force blocking the way between the GD members and the antifa counter-rally, with killings and with suing them for “breach of duty”, because, according to him, the police tolerates the antifa counter-rally instead of suppressing and arresting them (1:37-2:10: E. Kassidiaris: “I will fuck them all…you have my word that there will be dead people today, there will be dead today… I will sue you both, I will sue you both for breach of duty… how I’m I going to make my event, when they [the antifa] attack and destroy the cars arriving here and you are playing with your penises? Is it possible to make my event?…”).
Later on, speaking to journalists, the same MP accused the government and the media for being hostile toward GD, “although it’s a legal political party”, and protective toward the antifa who are “punks”. He also threatened that the next day “there will be havoc in the parliament” (3:38-3:42).
Moreover, during the event, another GD MP, Christos Pappas, declared that they (the GD) “have no problem at all to unfold and show [publicly]” the 1967 military junta’s emblem depicting the, out of its ashes and the army, reborn phoenix, reading on top “HELLAS” (“GREECE”) and at the bottom “APRIL, 21” (the date the military coup was perpetrated in 1967). As he explained, as soon as the audience’s enthusiastic cheering and handclapping stopped, “… it is symbolic, the reborn phoenix, which is a symbol used by many, the military regime included, it had also been used in the 1821 revolution [against the Ottoman Empire] … is Greece itself that will be reborn out of its ashes” (7:25-8:45).
The event ended with all the participants in attention, chanting the Greek national anthem, because, as the MP E. Kassidiaris said once again, “our style is not so much political as it is military” (8:48-9:55).
A couple of days after these events, the a/m two student groups clashed in Hersonesos and two of the students were injured and transferred to the local hospital.
This incident had also been the escalation of the rivalry that had emerged between two high school students, a GD supporter and a fellow-student of Albanian origin, when the former had called the latter to “duel”, after he (the latter) had supported other antifa fellow-students who had written antifa slogans on the school’s walls (see our previous post about GD and the Greek schools).
It is worth mentioning that these events in Hersonesos were also the outcome of the long-lasting open clash between GD and the strong antifa front in Crete and particularly in the city of Heraklion. GD had been trying for many months to open a local branch in this city, but the massive and tenacious resistance of the city’s antifascists has blocked all its attempts. Until now, GD has not been able to officially open a local branch in the city and, because of the city’s hostility, they avoided appearing there and they set up the a/m event away, in the Hersonesos village, where they faced the a/m antifa counter-rally.
Antifa struggles have also become very common in other cities of Crete as well as in many other regions and in Athens.
In Chania, Crete. an antifa demonstration and counter rally had been organized in 24/11 during a GD event in the context of the party’s two day political tour in Crete, where the MP E. Kassidiaris declared that the GD MPs don’t like at all being MPs, but “we exploit certain privileges associated with being MPs, we carry guns legally now, they can’t arrest us in case something happens, in case an incident happens, and we are a bit more free in our movements…”
In Athens several antifa actions happen every week in different places. In one of them, a GD group of around 50 individuals attempted to march in the Municipality of Ellinikon-Argyroupolis streets (Argyroupolis is one of our survey locations in Athens) in order to distribute party leaflets. They gathered near an open children’s playground shouting slogans, distributing leaflets, demanding to check the identity cards of passers by in order to spot individuals of non-Greek origin and destroying banners of the Greek Communist Party. When they were spotted by the locals, an antifa group of 100-150 individuals was quickly formed and approached them shouting slogans and demanding to leave the area immediately, as they were unwelcome. The Mayor of Ellinikon-Argyroupolis was in one of the municipality’s vans following the antifa counter rally, shouting antifa slogans from a set of loudspeakers on the van. The antifa counter demonstration escorted the GD members for about five km forcing them to abandon any thoughts of distributing leaflets or accomplishing any other action. The GD action ended with the riot police blocking the way between the GD and the antifa groups and clashing for a while with the antifa group before the GD group left the area.
Last summer during the double election period, GD members had made their presence felt in the Municipality of Ellinikon-Argyroupolis attacking and destroying kiosks and stands that left parties had installed for election campaign purposes.
Antifascist and antiracist struggles have become an everyday reality in the entire country and the issue of the fascist and racist influence on the Greek youth has gained great importance. In this climate, the Ministry of Education announced recently that an “Observatory for the Prevention of School Violence and Intimidation” will be set up in order to address the problem of racism in schools. Golden Dawn responded accusing the Deputy Minister of Health, who had announced the Observatory, for targeting the party and establishing in reality an “Observatory for Golden Dawn’s Containment”, but, they conclude, all these attempts will ultimately fail because “we have won the youth from you, once and for all”. The battle for the mind and heart of Greek youth has sharpened and now covers great parts of the Greek society, following the country’s prolonged economic and socio-political collapse.