LONDON - Greece's far-right, Golden Dawn, party is entering the Greek parliament for the first time, demanding that all immigrants be "sent home" and wanting land mines planted along the Turkish border. The result has caused alarm, as fears grow that the economic crisis is benefiting extremist politicians.
Greece belongs to Greeks
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Supporters chant 'Greece belongs to Greeks,' as Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos marches triumphantly through the streets of Athens.
A reporter following the crowd asks what policy the party would implement first.
"All the illegal immigration out. Out of my country, out of my home," said Michaloliakos.
Golden Dawn won 7 percent of the vote and 21 parliamentary seats in Sunday's election.
But Thanasis Kourkoulas of the campaign group 'Expel Racism' is calling for the party to be banned. "It is the first time that a neo-Nazi group enters Greek parliament since 1974 when the [military] junta finished here," he stated.
Along with its economic meltdown, Greece is facing what the United Nations calls a humanitarian refugee crisis. Many right-wing supporters link the two.
Backlog in processing, descrimination
Every Saturday, from dawn, crowds of asylum-seekers gather at the migrant processing center in Athens. The backlog in applications numbers in the tens of thousands.
Last year, VOA met Afghan asylum-seeker Hafeez, who like many immigrants, had been targeted by a right-wing mob in Athens.
He says they did not say anything; they just started to beat him all over his body.
Planting landmines to control border
The Golden Dawn party is calling for landmines to be planted along the Turkish border, where most migrants enter Greece. In Athens, its campaign posters spoke of "cleaning up the city" and "removing the dirt."
For the city's Jewish community, the party's language and Nazi-like uniforms mark a dangerous development. Benjamin Albalas is a Jewish community leader. "We are also really very concerned that the neo-Nazi far-right party was, will be, a member of the Greek parliament in Athens, where democracy was born," he said.
Greek analyst Michael Arghyrou of Cardiff University says Golden Dawn's success may have its roots in the economic policies of the previous government. "People mainly from the right wing of the mainstream conservative party wanted to register a protest vote, so it is a protest vote, but it is also true that the immigration question in Greece has taken explosive proportions," Arghyrou stated.
Golden Dawn denies it is a neo-Nazi party and accuses Greek and foreign media of distorting its nationalist agenda.