September 28, 2013 — New York — AJC praised the Greek government for taking bold action against the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party.
“The very essence of democracy in Greece is at stake,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “The message is clear from the Greek government that the forces of violent extremism are a threat to society and will not be tolerated.”
Greek police today arrested four Golden Dawn members of Parliament, including party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, and ten other party officials. They are charged with founding a criminal organization. More arrests are expected.
The party currently holds 18 seats in the 300-member Parliament, making it the third largest political party in Greece. It has used violence, intimidation and neo-Nazi symbolism to promote its racist ideology.
Immigrants have been a main target of Golden Dawn. Moreover, the party has threatened the Jewish community, suggesting they are not part of Greek society. It has also physically menaced Greek politicians of opposing viewpoints.
The government was moved to act following the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a popular rapper, whose songs protest the rise of extremism in Greece. A Golden Dawn member has been arrested for the murder.
“While we are mindful of the risks involved with taking on a political party that serves in the Parliament, there are limits, which in the case of Golden Dawn, were passed a long time ago,” said Harris. “Laudably, the government of Prime Minister Samaras has recognized the absolutely necessity to say enough is enough, and to take meaningful actions to stop the madness of Golden Dawn. A party cannot be allowed to cynically use the freedom that democracy offers to subvert that very freedom.”
AJC will host a meeting with Prime Minister Samaras during his visit to New York this week.