Thursday, 6 June 2013

Jewish groups condemn Greek party's racism bill

ADL blast Greece’s Golden Dawn party after it submits draft bill to "combat racism against Greeks” by illegal immigrants.

Golden Dawn supporters in Athens [file photo]
Golden Dawn supporters in Athens [file photo] Photo: Yorgos Karahalis / Reuters
Jewish groups condemned Greece’s Golden Dawn party on Wednesday, after it submitted a draft bill in parliament “to combat racism against Greeks” by illegal immigrants.
Golden Dawn, which had been described as a neo-Nazi organization by the Anti- Defamation League, presented its bill after parliament failed to pass a measure that would have imposed prison terms and fines for racist attacks and outlaw the use of Nazi symbols and denying the Holocaust.
According to Enet English, a Greek news website, the new bill came in response to the failed measure, which Golden Dawn believes would have made “Greeks a minority in their own country.”
The new bill would provide protection against the those who would deny “genocides of Greeks,” Enet English reported, with harsh penalties imposed on migrants who engaged in violence against Greeks.
“Golden Dawn has invented yet another new way to promote its anti-democratic racist ideology,” ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “Their bill is a classic example of the perpetrator claiming to be the victim.
“Golden Dawn continues to use its role in the Greek parliament to spew hatefilled poison, undermine democratic principles and sow fear and division in Greek society.”
Foxman called upon “the other political parties in Greece to come together to defend Greek democracy by adopting effective legislation to combat racism and anti- Semitism in Greece.”
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said, “This is a classic example of why Golden Dawn is so dangerous, because it is using the democratic process to further its racist agenda while attempting to suppress real human rights.
“Democratic tools must not be used to further hate and racism and used as political battering rams against minorities. We call on the Greek government to immediately and unequivocally reject this attempt and move forward on the real law that would curtail and contain racism as utilized by the Golden Dawn,” Kantor said.
A spokesman for the World Jewish Congress also expressed concern, saying he was worried about the “failure of mainstream political parties in Greece to reach a compromise on the muchneeded new legislation against racism and hate speech.
“It seems that extremists of Golden Dawn are taking advantage of the divisions within the governing coalition and the democratic political parties represented in the Greek parliament,” he said. “A large part of that hate speech comes from members of the Golden Dawn party, and it must be fought vigorously because it poses a threat not just to religious or ethnic minorities but to democracy.”
Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in the 300- member Greek parliament.
Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fierce anti-immigrant platform, now has about 10 percent support.
The Council of Europe said Greece could legally ban the party, but Deputy Minister of Justice Konstantinos Karagounis told the Post last week that such a move would be counterproductive.
Last week, Judith Sunderland, senior Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch, issued a warning: “With people being attacked on the streets, Greece urgently needs to beef up its criminal justice response to hate crimes.”
JTA contributed to this report.


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