BRUSSELS – Greek officials are considering banning the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party after a member is said to have fatally stabbed a prominent left-wing musician at an anti-fascist rally in Athens.
Greek public order minister Nikos Dendias told reporters in Athens on Wednesday (18 September) that the government would table emergency legislation seeking to outlaw the group, reports the Guardian.
“Neither the state will tolerate, nor society accept, acts and practices that undermine the legal system,” said Dendias.
Dozens of Golden Dawn members chased the 34-year old musician, Pavlos Fyssas, and his friends, from a cafe late on Tuesday evening. Fyssas was then stabbed in the chest, sparking anti-Golden Party demonstrations throughout Athens the next day.
Witnesses of the attack said it appeared to be premeditated because the killer suddenly emerged from a vehicle during the assault. They allege someone in the mob had phoned him in.
Police later apprehended the suspect, a 45-year old man, who admitted he was a member of the Golden Dawn party. Media reports say the suspect had initially tried to hide incriminating evidence that linked him to the political group.
Other Greek leaders have also voiced outrage.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and socialist Pasok party leader Evangelos Venizelos are said to have convened a special meeting to discuss how to strip the party of its influence and voter appeal, reports Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
According to sources cited by the paper, the leaders want the government to adopt a two-pronged approach using criminal law to help dismantle the group and techniques to efface its popular “anti-system” image among supporters.
“Golden Dawn uses violence as its main tool and must be treated as a criminal organisation. It has now gone beyond all limits. The state must intervene,” said Venizelos.
The party, which saw members voted into the parliament in June, has been known to use violence and intimidation against those critical of its views.
Last week, a group of 50-or-so Golden Dawn activists also used iron bars to beat up Communist party campaigners putting up posters in the Greek capital.
It is Greece’s third largest party, although the June election saw it lose three of its 21 seats in the 300-seat parliament.
Hannes Swoboda, the Austrian leader of the Socialist group, said the upcoming Greek EU presidency cannot be fit for purpose if the Golden Dawn gets away with its actions.
"If the Greek government and Prime Minister Samaras fail to put a stop to the hate-filled behaviour of Golden Dawn and other fascist groups, it will be an unacceptable presidency and not likely to bring any progress, either for Europe or for Greece,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
For its part, the Golden Dawn leadership denies any involvement in the stabbing or any links to the alleged assailant.