Greek Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said he is concerned about the party’s alleged ties to the police and military. Accusations are rife that police may be working with the Golden Dawn on a new nationwide stop-and-search campaign targeting illegal immigrants. Activists also allege that segments of the police may be colluding with the party in anti-immigrant attacks, which the government estimates number at least two or three a week.
There have been limited attempts to investigate the party, including lifting parliamentary immunity for two Golden Dawn legislators who were recently videotaped harassing an immigrant market. But critics say the government has been reluctant to more broadly confront the party’s alleged abuses. Rather than banning the party, as some here suggest, Roupakiotis said the best solution is to improve social conditions in Greece to undermine the Golden Dawn’s strength.
“Greece fought the fascists in World War II, thousands of Jews ended up in crematoriums and now we are facing this threat again,” Roupakiotis said. He later added: “This is being caused by the tough conditions Greece is being forced to endure. Extremists are taking advantage of the situation.”
Yet Roupakiotis and others also blame the heavy flow of migrants from the Middle East and Asia who use Greece as a back door to enter the European Union, most often via Turkey. The situation is being made worse by European policies that allow E.U. countries to deport undocumented immigrants to their entry point in the union, often meaning Greece. As a result, the population in Greek jails is 40 percent non-Greek.
Since the Golden Dawn’s rise to office this year, immigrant communities across Greece are reporting what they describe as a reign of terror. In the America Square neighborhood of Athens, for instance, immigrants have begun organizing night watches after shopkeepers had their storefronts vandalized and immigrant men were assaulted. Earlier this month, residents say, a group of Greek men dressed in black stripped and humiliated an Ethiopian woman.