Is Greece on the brink of civil war due to the severe economic crisis, political tensions and increasing xenophobia? Thousands participated in rallies in Athens
on Friday after members of the country's communist party (KKE) were attacked by supporters of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi
party. The violent attacks, carried out by black-shirted supporters of the neo-Nazi party, left nine people in hospital with serious injuries.
According to Britain's Guardian, about 50 men wielding crowbars and bats set upon leftists as they distributed posters in a working-class district of the capital late on Thursday.
A statement by KKE said: "The way in which they acted and the weapons employed… are evidence of the murderous nature of the attack. Among the Golden Dawners, some of whom had covered their faces or wore helmets or (party) shirts, were their leaders, well-known fascists and thugs."
Greek neo-Nazi party propaganda video
In last year's general elections in Greece,
the radical Golden Dawn party received 18 of the 300 parliament seats, after receiving more than 6% of the votes, and thus entered the Hellenic Parliament for the first time. The party did so while exploiting, like other small parties, the Greeks' frustration of the larger parties, which were unable to stabilize the country's economy.
The party's pledges to "clear" Greece of foreigners captivated citizens that were afraid of the increase in crime due to the economic crisis. In certain neighborhoods in Athens, Golden Dawn party members were received with much affection due to their common good activities – food donation to needy families and accompanying of senior citizens to ATMs.
Golden Dawn members rally in Athens (Photo: Reuters)
Dimitris Psarras, a writer who has chronicled Golden Dawn's rise over almost four decades since the collapse of military rule, told the Guardian: "Their agenda, clearly, is to create a climate of civil war, a divide where people have to choose between leftists and rightists."
Psarras argues the attack in the dock-side district of Perama – a Communist stronghold where Golden Dawn has made considerable inroads in recent years on the back of anger over austerity measures – was indicative of that strategy.
"It was very well organized and the most serious incident yet," he told the Guardian. "They are no longer only targeting immigrants in the middle of the night. They are deliberately increasing tensions, expanding their agenda of hate, by going for leftists."
The last civil war in Greece took place between rightists and leftists after World War II,
and the Mediterranean
country now fears the outbreak of another civil war, when it is mired in a sixth year of recession that has seen poverty and unemployment soar as it navigates its worst crisis in modern times.
The Guardian revealed that recent opinion polls have shown that no other party has managed to capitalize on the growing levels of desperation and despair as effectively as the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn.
The Guardian further reported that according to analysts, Thursday's attack demonstrates Golden Dawn's growing self-confidence and ability to spread its appeal. They point to the inroads the party is making into middle-class neighborhoods of Athens.
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