It's been a while since we featured anything about Greece and I'm sure you all miss watching my country burn to the ground. So, here goes: We have elections this Sunday, and it's likely that the broken state of Greece will be reflected in the most fragmented Parliament in 30 years (basically ever since Greece stopped being a dictatorship). About nine parties are likely to do well enough to win seats.
One of these parties is Golden Dawn, the most prominent gang of nationalist assholes in Greece. (Think of its members as being like hairier, darker and shorter versions of the EDL guys.) Because of its extremist and racist views, as well as the Greek media’s suspicion that it has close ties with the police, for years Golden Dawn has been in the country’s political doghouse. Sadly but inevitably, however, it appears that poverty and a subsequent rise in crime have given Golden Dawn the chance to shine.
The breaking point was reached a year ago, on the evening of May 11, when a 44-year-old man was murdered in the centre of Athens. Worse, he was killed while he was walking his pregnant wife to his car so that she could give birth at hospital. The three guys that did it were after his video camera, and when they were identified as foreigners, a peaceful demonstration held in the wake of the murder was hijacked by nationalists who went out hunting foreigners.
The next day I interviewed Elias Panagiotaros, Golden Dawn's main media guy, because reports indicated that they'd orchestrated the attacks on immigrants. I had been writing a few too many things about Greeks fighting each other at the time, though, and my mum got really upset over the possibility of giving "those disgusting idiots publicity", so the article didn't run.
But what's done is done, Mum; Those "disgusting idiots" are very likely to be making decisions on your behalf in just a week's time.
So, you know, if you happen to be Greek, reading this and of a voting age, maybe think twice before voting for people that carry swastikas coloured in blue and white. It doesn't really make sense. We wouldn't all be so goddamn dark if it did.
VICE: I take it you were present on Thursday’s rally and subsequent episodes?
Elias Panagiotaros: As one of the principal members of the Golden Dawn, a shop owner of the area, and a proud Greek, yes, I took part in the grand demonstration that took place in honour of this unfortunate man’s memory. And what about the beatings?
What beatings? The beatings of the immigrants. There are videos, photographs and eye-witness reports that show and speak of Golden Dawn members chasing, beating and stabbing immigrants. According to a number of newspapers, more than 40 foreign men ended up in hospital on that day.
Look, I couldn’t possibly know who were the people that did those things. At the moment, the people are so angry and desperate that such incidents are something to be expected. The media in Greece have been scapegoating the Golden Dawn for years. We guard our own events because we do not like to see things like this happening, but in a demo like Thursday’s, which was not organised by any specific organisation and open to everyone, it is only logical that some outbursts will occur. But the people’s rage I find completely understandable.
It’s a matter of survival. When you can’t walk on the street because there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll get stabbed for the chain you wear on your neck, or your cell phone… it only comes down to who is going to be the one to live and tell the tale. I’m still not clear – should we or shouldn’t we take matters into our own hands and start kicking some immigrant ass?
There is no need for violence. And there is no need for an armed struggle when the state and the police are operating properly. But they aren’t really operating properly at the moment, are they?
No. This country is completely broken, there is no state, no institutions, nothing. And this is why we have been receiving more calls than 911, lately. As for the armed struggle, it’s only a matter of time for the Greek citizens to start it. They’re already ready because their towns, their villages and neighbourhoods have been left unguarded. Those foreigners mug, rape and kill them. Um, OK. You want to talk a little about what you guys stand for?
We are nationalist Greeks and we love our country. We have five basic principles: Greece belongs to the Greeks. One does not become a Greek, but is born one. This is not England with all their Pakistanis and those Indians! If a black man comes from Africa and stays in Greece for 15 years, he is still not a Greek. We are anti-capitalists, anti-communists and believe in a national state. We also have extremely normal and strict opinions on matters regarding illegal immigration, drugs and homosexuality. It’s all pretty straightforward if you think about it.
Nice. So, you must feel pretty vindicated now.
Of course we do! There is no question about it! We have been crying to keep the foreigners out of Greece for years now. We have been doing it since 1990, when there weren’t even any immigrants in Greece. So now, in 2011, that we have more than two million illegal immigrants causing all this debauchery in our country, we certainly feel vindicated. Unfortunately. You must feel pretty empowered too. What are your plans for the future?
We don’t feel empowered, we are. Our goal is to get a few seats in Parliament in the upcoming elections and to, literally, cause a stir. What are you gonna do if you do end up with seats in the Parliament?
Immediate deportation of all immigrants. The borders should get boarded up, from sea and land, because at the moment people just come and go at their liking. Those who help the immigrants with their papers, and those who employ or house immigrants will also be severely punished. OK. Do you think that’s going to happen?
I’d bet on it. Maybe you should ask those bookmakers of yours in London, see what they have to say. Nah, I'm good thanks.