[QODLink]
Europe

Greek riot police clash with anti-fascists

Street battles triggered by leftist groups' demonstration against the extreme-right party, Golden Dawn.

Last updated: 02 Feb 2014 05:19
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Clashes broke out after a counter-demonstration staged by a group opposed to Golden Dawn [AFP]

Riot police and anti-fascist protesters in Greece have clashed in central Athens, leaving at least two people injured.

Police said more than 3,000 supporters of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party held a rally on Saturday to commemorate a 1996 dispute over an uninhabited Aegean Sea island that brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war.

Saturday's rally was largely peaceful, but violent clashes were triggered by the counter-demonstration, staged by leftist groups protesting against the Golden Dawn rally.

Last November, the government began a crackdown on Golden Dawn following the fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist musician in Athens.

The fate of the party is being closely watched ahead of the May vote - where it is expected to perform strongly due to a wave of anger against government cuts - amid speculation of new efforts to rein in the group, which denies it is neo-Nazi.

Despite the crackdown, the party has said it will find a way to contest local and European elections in May, a senior Golden Dawn MP told a defiant crowd of a few thousand supporters in central Athens.

Party closely watched 

"We will participate in the elections, one way or another," Ilias Kasidiaris told about 3,000 supporters rallying in Athens.

Kasidiaris is the most prominent public face of the party since the arrest of its leader, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos. 

Golden Dawn remains Greece's third-most popular party. Two polls published last week showed the party would get 8.9 percent to 10.3 percent of the vote if elections were held now.

Kasidiaris, who plans to run for Athens mayor in May, suggested that a new party, National Dawn, could replace Golden Dawn if it was prevented from running in the election.

Black-clad supporters waved Greek flags and unfurled a banner with the face of Mihaloliakos and chanted "traitors" against the government. Some handed out leaflets advertising National Dawn.

Golden Dawn entered parliament for the first time in 2012, tapping resentment against illegal immigrants and politicians blamed for a crisis that has forced millions out of work and plunged the economy into a six-year recession.

Six of the party's 18 MPs, including Mihaloliakos, are in pre-trial detention over a probe into Golden Dawn and a string of attacks against immigrants and political opponents.

371

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.