Greece Rocked by Night of Riots After Anti-Fascist Rapper Was Stabbed to Death by Member of Far-Right Party Golden Dawn
Lizzie Edmonds, Daily Mail (London), September 19, 2013
Violent clashes broke out in several Greek cities last night after an anti-fascist activist and musician was stabbed to death by a man claiming to be a member of far-right Golden Dawn party.
Pavlos Fyssas, 34, a hip-hop singer whose stage name was Killah P, died in a state hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning after being stabbed twice outside a cafe in the Keratsini area west of Athens.
Yesterday, a 45-year-old man was arrested at the scene. He admitted attacking Fyssas and said he belonged to Golden Dawn. A knife with traces of blood was found near his car.
Golden Dawn leader Nicholas Michaloliakos says the group had nothing to do with the attack.
Clashes broke out on Wednesday evening in Keratsini and five other cities between riot police and thousands of protesters holding anti-fascist demonstrations in Fyssas’ memory.
In Keratsini, violence broke out near the scene of the stabbing, with hundreds of protesters attacking a nearby police station.
The confrontation lasted more than two hours, with riot police using tear gas to repel youths, who set fire to trash bins and smashed up sidewalks with hammers to throw rocks at police.
The clashes left a busy suburban road strewn with rocks and smoldering trash for several hundred meters.
Traffic outside the busy port of Piraeus was disrupted as police cordoned off streets to stop protesters from reaching the area.
Similar scenes played out in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, where about 6,000 demonstrators marched.
Greek media also reported violent clashes in the western city of Patras, the northeastern city of Xanthi, the central city of Larissa and in Chania on the southern island of Crete.
Authorities said at least 75 people were detained–41 in Keratsini and 36 in Thessaloniki.
Earlier, friends of the victim and residents left flowers and candles at the spot of the attack, where blood still stained the sidewalk.
The head of a small right-wing opposition party, Panos Kamenos of the Independent Greeks, was briefly assaulted by protesters when he attempted to visit the site.
Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose Socialist party is part of the coalition government, said Golden Dawn had ‘violence as its priority and must be dealt with as a criminal organization.’
Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, urged Greek authorities to examine banning the party altogether.
He said: ‘Golden Dawn’s openly xenophobic, neo-Nazi hatred even goes as far as murdering political opponents. This is shocking and intolerable by any standards, and more so in a European Union country.’
The rights group Amnesty International called on authorities to prevent any further incidents.
Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty’s deputy Europe and Central Asia program director said: ‘Politically motivated violence of this kind is unacceptable anywhere, and history has shown the grim consequences if it goes unchecked.
‘The Greek authorities must send a clear message that attacks like this will not be tolerated.’
The suspect, who was not named in accordance with Greek law, appeared before a prosecutor Wednesday evening along with his wife, who was also arrested on suspicion of concealing evidence.
Another couple also appeared in court on similar charges. Five prosecutors have been assigned to the case.
Golden Dawn, whose senior members have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler although they deny being neo-Nazi, won nearly 7 percent of the vote in 2012 general elections. Recent opinion polls show its support has since risen to around 12 percent.
Party members and supporters, often clearly identifiable in black T-shirts and combat pants, have been suspected of beatings and stabbings across the country, usually of dark-skinned migrants.
In January, two men identified as party sympathizers were arrested for the fatal stabbing of a Pakistani migrant worker.
Golden Dawn has been blamed for numerous violent attacks in the past. However, the stabbing of the young musician is the most serious violence so far, and the first directly attributed to a member.
Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said: ‘I am shaken by the event. [the attacks] show in the clearest possible way the intentions of the neo-Nazi creation.’
Michaloliakos, the Golden Dawn head, said his party ‘unreservedly condemns the murder of the 34-year-old at Keratsini and denies any involvement of the party.’
He added: ‘All the political parties must assume their responsibilities and not create a climate of civil war, giving a political character to a tragic event.’
Police spokesman Christos Parthenis said the suspect drove to the scene of an altercation between two groups of people, got out of the car and stabbed Fyssas.
Friends of the victim told Greek media they had been attacked by a large group of men as they left the cafe.
Golden Dawn lawmaker Michalis Avranitis offered a different version of events, saying the victim and the suspect had initially argued about a soccer match.
Avranitis said in Parliament: ‘Yes, this man, as it turns out, has declared himself to be a member of Golden Dawn. But Golden Dawn has 1 million supporters.
‘If, in a restaurant, two drunken idiots have a fight and someone is stabbed, should we look at their ideology and blame that’.