ExtremismGolden Dawn is Down, but Far Right Rises Again in Greece

By Kaki Bali

Published 18 October 2021

A year after the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was banned, other nationalist groups are cropping up across Greece. Extremist attacks have become more frequent in the past month.

The images from a vocational school in Stavroupoli, a suburb of Thessaloniki in northern Greece, were shocking. On September 27, hooded youths dressed in black used crowbars, knives and stones against peers who had distributed leaflets criticizing the right-wing government’s education policies. The attackers later gave the Nazi salute in the schoolyard.

The attack was the first in a series of similar incidents in Greece in recent weeks carried out by groups that are considered to be the successors of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which was banned in October 2020. In Ilioupoli, another suburb of Thessaloniki, members of the youth organization of the Communist Party were attacked with baseball bats and iron chains in broad daylight. Four were injured. A neo-Nazi parade took place on October 1 in the suburb of Evosmos — and escalated from there.

And it’s not just happening in Thessaloniki: people working with refugees, members of the Movement United Against Racism and Fascist Threat (KEERFA), were also recently attacked in the Neo Irakleio district of the Greek capital, Athens.

Far Right Stoking Fear of Uncertainty’
Konstantinos Tsitselikis, a professor who specializes in human rights and international organizations at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, told DW that the attack in Stavroupoli did not come out of the blue. “Unfortunately, there are far-right groups in many schools,” he said. “They are dispersed all over the country, mostly in areas which are economically deprived, where neo-Nazi groups can easily recruit teenagers. What is worse is that some teachers tolerate this recruitment or even encourage it. It’s a phenomenon that needs more attention.”

Ten years ago, right-wing extremism in Greece was most visible in the greater Athens area. Golden Dawn members would hunt down people they presumed to be migrants on a daily basis in the center of the capital or the more working-class neighborhoods of the nearby port city, Piraeus.

But since 2018, Thessaloniki has also been a stronghold of the far-right. The development was exacerbated by nationalist rallies that took place there against the 2018 Prespa agreement, which was reached to resolve the long-standing political conflict between Greece and the neighboring country now known as North Macedonia.