Europe urges Greece to probe legality of neo-Nazi party
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Members of Greece's extremist far-right Golden Dawn hold Greek flags and shout slogans outside the Turkish Consulate during the visit of Devlet Bahceli, head of Turkey's Nationalist Movement Party in the northern port city of Thessaloniki, on Thursday, June 28, 2012. AP photo
Greece must examine the legality of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, which has vowed to purge illegal migrants, a senior European official said in an interview published on Sunday.
The Council of Europe will also send a mission to Greece to assess if racism and xenophobia are on the rise, its Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks told Greek newspaper To Vima.
He said Golden Dawn -- which won 18 seats in the 300-member parliament in last month's election -- was the "most overtly extremist and Nazi party in Europe".
The party often employs overtly anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric and has been accused of involvement in attacks on migrants and Greeks of foreign appearance.
"The question to be asked is whether Golden Dawn will allow a democratic regime to flourish freely", Muiznieks said, adding that attacks on foreigners and refugees "are directly linked to the racist speeches spread" by the party.
He also called for close scrutiny into alleged links between the party and the police.
In a report this month entitled "Hate on the Streets", Human Rights Watch called on Athens to take urgent action to stem an alarming rise in attacks on Asian and African immigrants, including stabbings and serious beatings.
"The state should not be allowing gangs of thugs to mete out vigilante violence in its city streets," lead researcher Judith Sunderland said.