Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said he’d fight to keep the country on track in the wake of protests sparked by the murder of a 34-year-old man by a supporter of the surging nationalist Golden Dawn party.
“We all know that the country is at a particularly critical point,” Samaras said in a recorded statement broadcast on state-run television DT. “It’s not the time for internal fighting or tensions.”
Samaras spoke after protests overnight in the Athens suburb of Keratsini following the stabbing of the man that Samaras identified as Pavlos Fyssas, whom Greek media described as a rapper. Authorities arrested 34 people and detained another 96 as the rally turned violent. Fyssas was killed in an altercation with a man who police said is linked to the opposition Golden Dawn party.
Golden Dawn is the only Greek party to have gained in polls since entering parliament in May last year. In June 2012, the party, which has expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and been involved in violence against immigrants, got 7 percent of the vote, tapping into a vein of protest and anger against record unemployment that has accompanied a recession now in its sixth year. Its support rose to 13.5 percent, according to latest Pulse RC poll conducted on Sept. 9-10.
“Descent into violence destroys any chance Greece has of what it deserves: growth, peace and prosperity,” Samaras said. “This government is determined to not allow the heirs of the Nazis to poison our society.”
The fatal stabbing came early on Sept. 18, after police received a report of a gang of about 50 people armed with clubs clashing with another group. Fyssas died after being taken to hospital. Police searched the offices of the local branches of the party yesterday, according to a statement. Two people have been detained in addition to the perpetrator of the crime, who hasn’t been named. Rallies were held in a number of Greek cities late yesterday.
The murder sparked a new debate in Greece about whether the party can be banned or characterized as a criminal gang to limit its activities. Golden Dawn has 18 members in Greece’s 300-seat parliament.
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