Members of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) Party have attacked and destroyed the market stalls of several immigrant merchants. A video released by Golden Dawn showed that 30 uniformed militant activists carrying Greek flags attacked the immigrants’ merchandise stalls in the city of Rafina near Athens on Saturday.
The activists first checked the papers of traders then started kicking their stalls as police and pedestrians passed by without any attempt to stop them.Police say they have launched an investigation into the incidents, with Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias calling for the punishment of the perpetrators. The far-right extremist Golden Dawn, which enjoys the support of 10 percent of the Greek population, won 18 seats in Greece's 300-member parliament during the June elections. The party which is a key instigator of the social unrest caused by five years of economic recession and tough austerity cuts is vehemently opposed to immigration. The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, has censured Golden Dawn as the "most overtly extremist and Nazi party in Europe," and called on Athens to reconsider the legality of the party and investigate its links with the police. Greece’s socialist party, PASOK, and Communist Party have condemned the Saturday violence and called on the government to prevent the wave of “fascist incidents.” Observers say the economic crisis is merely one of the motives behind the attack. Last week, the public order minister said in an interview that the Greek capital city was grappling with a tide of racist crimes as a “new phenomenon.” In mid-August, a young Iraqi was stabbed to death by five men in Athens in an apparent hate crime, after police conducted an operation to expel undocumented immigrants from Athens. Human rights groups have voiced concern as police continues arresting thousands of migrants, and the public order ministry calls for arresting the undocumented immigrants as a matter of "national survival." Due to Greece's geographic location, the country is one of the primary ports of entry for migrants from Asia and Africa into the European Union. ASH/HJL/MA