Golden Dawn, the right-wing Greek political party often referred to as neo-Nazis, is ascendant on the political scene, and currently polls in third place at the national level.
The party has also been engaging in intimidation and street attacks on immigrants in Greece, who they target as a part of their extremist platform – and the police are reportedly in on it.
Golden Dawn has also drawn alarming support from parts of another institution supposed to provide refuge to such victims – the church.
Over the weekend, Golden Dawn celebrated the opening of a new branch office in Corinth, and priests were there for the occasion to ordain it:
Andy Dabilis has been covering the interactions between Golden Dawn and the church from Athens. He wrote for Southeast European Times that Golden Dawn has taken heavily to invoking religion:
With fines up to 3,000 euros and imprisonment up to two years, Greece’s blasphemy penalties have rarely been invoked, but critics said police have been pushed by the neo-Nazi and ultra-religious Golden Dawn party to crack down on those it believes offend God and the Greek Orthodox Church.
Recent arrests and protests have brought religion to the forefront in a country that is one of the few in Europe with a state-recognised religion. More than 90 per cent of Greeks identify themselves as Greek Orthodox.
However, although certain elements in the church are aligning themselves closely with the party, there are a few that have spoken out.
One is Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, whose comments about Golden Dawn Dabilis covered in a separate article for the Greek Reporter:
In an interview with Imerisia newspaper, [Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista] described Golden Dawn as “uncivilized,” adding that the party’s acts “have nothing to do with ancient Greek civilisation nor the Gospel.” He added: “We all have to take a clear stand on the Golden Dawn issue… we have to preach the word of God, which has nothing to do with the acts committed by members of Golden Dawn,” he said.
That stance, though, has led the priest to receive death threats from Golden Dawn supporters, Dabilis says:
Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista, a town in West Macedonia, said the calls have warned him that, “We shall burn that commie,” an apparent reference to Communists, who Golden Dawn, an extremist right-wing party, sees as one of the many enemies it believes is undermining Greece. There have reportedly been many threats made against the church, whose officials said they believe are coming from Golden Dawn and other ultra-nationalists who want all immigrants out of Greece and have a “Greece for Greeks” ideology.
All of this shows that Golden Dawn definitely seems to be gaining influence across several major institutions in Greece.