Greece scraps far-right protection

 

Greece scrapped police protection for MPs from the far-right Golden Dawn party today after the bodyguards did nothing while the deputies went on a rampage destroying street stands run by migrant vendors.

Led by three MPs, Golden Dawn supporters in black glasses and black T-shirts overturned and broke tables manned by migrants at open-air markets held on Saturday at the central Greek towns of Messolongi and Rafina.

Reacting to public criticism for police inaction, Greek minister for public order Nikos Dendias said today he suspended the Rafina police chief.

His ministry also said it removed the state-appointed bodyguards protecting all Golden Dawn MPs, saying it wanted to spare policemen the conflict of having to either protect the deputies or stop them from illegal behaviour.

It was the first time police protection had been revoked for MPs, police officials said. Armed bodyguards are among privileges enjoyed by all Greek parliamentarians.

"The police force has decided to remove police protection for Golden Dawn members of parliament after the party announced that it will continue with violent actions and abuse of authority," the ministry said in a statement. "The decision is aimed at protecting police guards from unintentional conflict of duty in guarding lawmakers, since their duty is to pursue and arrest violators."

Golden Dawn emerged from obscurity to win parliamentary seats in a June election, capitalising on rising anti-immigrant sentiment in austerity-torn Greece by campaigning to rid the country of all foreigners.

The party said it had checked vendors' permits and chased out foreigners who had none. "Golden Dawn members did today what the absent state should have done a long time ago," it said in a statement.

Apart cracking down on illegal immigrants, the party offers for-Greeks-only food aid and tried to set up a blood bank only for Greeks.

The party denies it is neo-Nazi but its symbol is reminiscent of the Nazi swastika and its members have been seen giving Nazi salutes.

Golden Dawn's popularity has grown even though its leader Nikos Mihaloliakos has denied the Holocaust and its spokesman hit a female left-wing politician during a television debate.

A poll published last week showed its popularity has surged to 10.5 per cent, a rating that would make it Greece's third-most popular party if elections were held now.

The Association of Small Greek Vendors, which has long complained about unfair competition from street vendors without documents, hailed the party's action and urged it to do more. "We absolutely agree (with the action), it should be widened throughout the country," the group said, according to the semi-official Athens News Agency (ANA).

Reuters

</p>

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.