Neo-Nazis march through Athens

2013-05-30 16:00
Greek neo-Nazis gather in central Athens in January 2007. (File, AFP)

Greek neo-Nazis gather in central Athens in January 2007. (File, AFP)

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Athens - Hundreds of Greek neo-Nazis marched with torches through the streets of Athens late on Wednesday to commemorate the 560th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The militants from the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party shouted "Blood, honour, Golden Dawn" and "Greece belongs to the Greeks".

After several fiery speeches against the Turks and communists in the square outside Athens cathedral, they marched on parliament, where the party has held 18 seats since June.

The annual march concluded without incident, unlike last year when a Pakistani man who found himself in their path was attacked by 15-20 neo-Nazis.

Nevertheless, this year's march caused concern among tourists in the Greek capital.

"When they arrived, all the tourists paid their bills and left," said Fotis, a waiter at the Meatropoleos restaurant in central Athens.

Ruling coalition split

As he watched the neo-Nazi demonstration unfold, Antonio Leiva, a tourist from Chile, said: "I'm shocked.

"I strongly believe in freedom of expression but there are limits when it comes to encouraging racial hatred," he said.

Greece's ruling coalition is split over a bid to toughen an anti-racism law aimed at curbing Golden Dawn, amid fears it could unwittingly alienate the influential Orthodox church.

The socialist and moderate leftist parties put forward the bill on their own on Thursday after the coalition's leading conservative party backtracked.

The proposed bill would impose prison sentences of up to three years - up from the current two years - and a fine of up to €20 000 for hate speech and the denial or praise of war crimes and genocide.

Rights groups believe Golden Dawn has instigated a recent wave of violence against migrants, which the party denies.

Read more on:    greece  |  nazis

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