19th Mar 2018

Anti-immigrant view being 'legitimised' in Greece

  • Greek journalist Manolis Kypreos lost his hearing when anti-riot police threw a stun grenade at him last year. (Photo: mkhalili)

Anti-immigrant and nationalistic discourse has existed in Greece since the 1990s, say experts, but has become more radical with the economic crisis.

For Golden Dawn, the neo-facist movement that scooped 6.9 percent of the vote in the June election, the simmering discontent has proved fertile ground.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“People can now stand up in the middle of a cafeteria and start declaring without a thread of shame that they voted for the Golden Dawn,” says Aristotle Kallis, a professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Lancaster University.

“The Golden Dawn does not create a new phenomenon in Greece. The Golden Dawn, through its radical action, through its very populist action, are legitimising a particular anti-immigrant rhetoric and anti-immigrant point of view in Greece,” said Kallis.

He noted that the party is also targeting the radical left in Greece, including journalists, students and politicians.

The Golden Dawn brands people who oppose their views as “anarcho-communists”, an old-fashioned term Kallis says was commonly used in the 1960s when the country was politically polarised.

Manolis Kypreos, a Greek journalist who worked for the Gastone media group, is familiar with the tactics of Golden Dawn supporters.

“Day-by-day attacks and threats are becoming more [frequent] from the members of the Golden Dawn. The police [are] just sleeping or the police officers are blind or very slow to react,” he told EUobserver in an email.

Kyreos says the Golden Dawn constantly threaten him either through twitter or notes left on his car. “You fucking leftist deaf journalist. Your end is coming. We are coming for you,” was one of the messages he found taped to his car in the morning of 19 August.

He is suffering from near-total hearing loss after anti-riot police tossed a stun grenade at him during a protest against EU-imposed austerity measures at Syntagma Square in June last year. He was taking photos and had identified himself as a journalist.

Kypreos says immigration has profoundly divided the nation with some, like the Golden Dawn, making claims that force is the only appropriate measure to restore the country to its former “glory”.

“Foreigners out!” and “The Garbage Should Leave the Country!” are among some of the party’s favourite slogans.

“The issue with the Golden Dawn in Greece, must be a concern for all of Europe. It is not only a Greek problem,” said Kyrpeos.

He claims members of the party had joined ranks with anti-riot units to help disperse the demonstration last year.

In June, around 30 members of the party broke into the Panteion University in Athens and beat leftist students who had organised an event against the party. Five people were reportedly injured.

Efstathia Lambropoulou, a lecturer in the university’s department of criminology, said the Golden Dawn have not attempted to enter the premises since.

“It happened only once,” Lambropoulou told this website from Athens. “I think it was and is over-estimated. The media and the students overemphasised the reactions or the activities of the Golden Dawn. It is much more rumour than really action.”

Meanwhile, an anonymous writer posted a 2,500 word letter on the Golden Dawn website making veiled threats to the editor of the foreign news desk of Kathimerini, Xenia Kounalaki.

Kounalaki had published a piece called “Banality of Evil” in April calling upon media outlets to blacklist the Golden Dawn from their coverage.

The letter, published five days after her article, also mentioned Kaonalaki’s 13-year old daughter. Kounalaki went to the police to file a complaint and was told to stop writing “negative” reports on the party. They could not protect her, she says.

The Pan-Hellenic Police, in some cases, have also been accused of brutality against their own citizens and failing to convict those responsible for hate crimes targeting immigrants and undocumented migrants.

A July report by Amnesty International claims human rights abuses by Greek law enforcement include torture and other ill treatment during arrest or detention. The incidents, says the NGO, are not isolated.

Of the 63 cases of violence recorded by the Racist Violence Recording Network – an UNHCR initiative - over a three month period at the end of 2011, 18 were perpetrated by police officers whom the network claims “seem to act as members of extremist groups”.

The network noted that the incidents recorded were only a fraction of actual cases.

Europol, the EU’s police agency based in The Hague, noted in a report in April that growing concerns over austerity programmes combined with disillusion with mainstream politics may lead to an increase in violent right-wing activities.

“The threat of violent right-wing extremism has reached new levels in Europe and should not be underestimated,” said the report.

Migrants set fire to Greek detention centre

Over 500 undocumented migrants detained for the past three months at the Komotini police academy in eastern Greece rioted and set fire to the premises.

EU told to create coalition against fake news

After almost two months of talks, a panel of experts set up by the EU commission have issued a series of recommendations on how to fight fake news or what they prefer to term 'disinformation'.

Poland defends judicial reforms, warns against EU pressure

Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki presented the Commission with 94-pages of arguments backing Warsaw's controversial judicial reforms - while his EU minister warns that constant conflict with Brussels could stoke anti-European sentiment.


Why has central Europe turned so eurosceptic?

Faced with poorer infrastructure, dual food standards and what can seem like hectoring from western Europe it is not surprising some central and eastern European member states are rebelling.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  2. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  3. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  4. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  5. EUobserverNow Hiring! Sales Associate With 2+ Years Experience
  6. EUobserverNow Hiring! Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience
  7. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  10. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections
  12. CECEIndustry Stakeholders Are Ready to Take the Lead in Digital Construction