Skip to main content

Greek PM calls for calm amid rising anger at Golden Dawn party

From Elinda Labropoulou, for CNN
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Thu September 19, 2013
Anti-fascist protesters hold signs reading
Anti-fascist protesters hold signs reading "Neo-Nazis Out" at a rally in Athens on Wednesday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prime minister calls for calm after clashes in an Athens suburb
  • Leftist protesters clashed with police after the death of a popular anti-fascist figure
  • A nationalist Golden Dawn party supporter is accused of killing leftist activist Pavlos Fyssas
  • Government leaders renew calls to ban the party, which has grown in influence

Athens, Greece (CNN) -- Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras pleaded for calm Thursday after rising anger at Greece's right-wing Golden Dawn party exploded into violence in a working-class Athens suburb.

"This is not a time for internal fighting, nor for tension," Samaras said in the televised speech.

"Any political differences should be resolved through democratic dialogue, not fiery arguments, nor violence, no matter where it stems from."

On Wednesday, crowds protesting the earlier stabbing death of a popular anti-fascist figure in Keratsini -- allegedly at the hands a Golden Dawn supporter -- hurled rocks at police and burned trash bins outside their station.

The clashes came despite police raids of Golden Dawn offices and the arrest of a 45-year-old party supporter who police say admitted killing Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known hip-hop artist with the stage name Killah P.

Fyssas' death inflamed already growing concerns about the rising influence of Golden Dawn, an ultranationalist, anti-immigration party that has been linked to street violence and neo-Nazism.

In 2012, the party rode a wave of dissatisfaction among some Greeks over internationally imposed austerity measures amid the country's deep financial crisis, winning 7% of the vote and gaining seats in parliament for the first time.

READ: Greek minister: Country may need extra 10 billion euros

Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kassidiaris denied his party's involvement in Fyssas' death, calling it a "heinous crime."

He accused politicians of "exploiting a tragic event to win votes and divide Greek society."

The singer's death has nevertheless led to renewed calls to ban Golden Dawn.

Greek Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias described the killing as an "abominable murder ... by an attacker who, according to his own statement, sympathizes with Golden Dawn, thus illustrating in the most obvious way the intentions of neo-Nazism."

Dendias said the government is looking to amend the country's criminal code to make it easier to prosecute political attacks and better define what constitutes an "armed gang."

READ: Europe's public health disaster: How austerity kills

Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose socialist Pasok party is part of the governing coalition, said Golden Dawn "must be dealt with as a criminal organization."

And an Austrian member of the European Parliament, Hannes Swoboda, also urged lawmakers to ban the party

"Golden Dawn's openly xenophobic, neo-Nazi hatred goes as far as murdering political opponents. This is shocking and intolerable by any standards, and more so in a European Union country," he said.

In his speech Thursday, Samaras called Fyssas' death an "inhuman assassination" and said the government is "determined to not allow the descendants of the Nazis to poison our social life, to commit crimes, terrorize and undermine the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:04 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 1:07 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
British journalist John Cantlie hadn't been seen in nearly two years. Now, he's the latest hostage to be paraded out by ISIS.
updated 6:49 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
British PM David Cameron has had the narrowest of political escapes.
The burial leader. The hospital gatekeeper. The disease detective. All telling powerful, stories from West Africa.
updated 7:03 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Alibaba's IPO is unlike anything investors have ever seen and could threaten other online retailers. Maggie Lake reports.
updated 9:30 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
Indian PM Narendra Modi has said al Qaeda will fail if it seeks to spread its terror network into his country.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 10:44 AM EDT, Sat September 20, 2014
 Tennis Player Li Na attends the WTA Pre-Wimbledon Party as guests enjoy Ciroc Vodka presented by Dubai Duty Free at Kensington Roof Gardens on June 19, 2014 in London,
Asia's first grand slam singles champion Li Na has called time on her 15-year tennis career.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 6:07 AM EDT, Fri September 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT