Tensions are on the rise as a famous left-wing rapper is stabbed by a Golden Dawn supporter
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, anti-fascist rapper and activist Pavlos Fyssas (aka Killah P) was stabbed to death in an Athens cafe. The alleged murderer, Giorgos Roupakias, has already been arrested and has confessed, and has also admitted that he is a member of the far-right party Golden Dawn.
If you haven't heard of Golden Dawn, you're in for a treat. Once considered part of Greece's lunatic right-wing fringe, it rose to prominence in the 2012 elections with a manifesto stoking anti-immigration fears. In a country beset by ongoing recession and austerity, it polled 7% of the vote – a remarkable rise from its previous electoral performance of 0.2%.
While party leaders officially distance themselves from any violence, political observers have noted that its anti-establishment, neo-Nazi views and vigilantism has lent weight to any supporters keen on going out and beating up any African immigrants. (Or two, or three – visit Crisis Maps or the Extremis Project to see a running tally of anti-immigrant attacks.)
Fyssas' murder marks a severe escalation of violence from Golden Dawn supporters – last week, about 50 men with iron bars attacked a group of Greek Communist Party members distributing party flyers, with nine victims sustaining severe injuries. As ever, Golden Dawn officials have denied involvement in both incidents.
Anti-Golden Dawn rallies were held across Greece all of yesterday, with some protests turning violent. Police responded with teargas; some claim that plain clothes officers are operating behind police lines to incite violence themselves. There are videos that allegedly show police and plain clothes officers inter-operating by throwing stones at protesters.
It won't assauge widely-held suspicions that the police are colluding with the far-right, nor will it ease fears that emboldened Golden Dawn supporters will continue to attack their opponents.
Today, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel: the Greek government has hinted that it will table emergency legislation to ban Golden Dawn entirely. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras issued a strong statement declaring that his government will not allow "successors of the Nazis" (if not pinpointing Golden Dawn specifically) to destablise Greece.
"Democracy is much stronger than its enemies realize," he said. Greece can only wait and hope.