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Golden Dawn takes advantage of recession ravaged Greece

Fascist gangs are turning Athens into a city of shifting front lines, seizing on crimes and local protests to promote their own movement, by claiming to be the defenders of recession ravaged Greece.

Thugs wearing the black T-shirts of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party are carrying out attacks on immigrant markets and in public squares, according to the United Nations, with victims speaking of areas in the capital which are now strictly off limits.

Malik Abdulbasset, an Egyptian-born shopkeeper, found himself the target of one of the mobs on Wednesday night after the barber across the road was stabbed during a robbery.

Golden Dawn members led a crowd of enraged locals in a protest on Mikhail Voda St that turned violent despite the presence of riot police.

While no one witnessed the attack on the barber, residents were adamant the assailant was black.

After battering his Egyptian assistant, the mob turned on Mr Abdulbasset, who had defied police to keep his shop open.

“I had to turn and point to my Greek children and my Greek wife and say, look I am Greek, we are Greek, if you want to kill us we cannot stop you but you are killing your own.”

The riot police watched on but did not intervene and threats of more protests were pasted on nearby doors.

“I will not close my shop because it is not my fault. But at the same time if something was to happen to my shop I will leave Greece because I am not protected.”

Ilias Panagiotaris, an MP for Golden Dawn, and a leading party figure in Athens, was unapologetic about his group’s methods.

“Most nations, well, not the US or Australia, have a single nationality that defines its culture and Greece must return to this ideal,” he said. “The Golden Dawn is a very well organised party that is intervening to support and help people. Without us in a country where two million of ten million people are illegal, there would be chaos.”

Support for his party has doubled from the seven per cent it received in the last Greek election, according to an opinion poll this week.

One of its main claims is it would dragoon immigrants on to flights to Islamabad and dare Pakistan to shoot the aircraft down.

Mr Panagiotaris added the ‘papers’ of every Greek who had acquired citizenship would be thoroughly vetted. “Everyone should have their documents inspected and those that bought their papers expelled.”

The undisguised extremism promoted by Golden Dawn is a chilling watershed in Greece’s post-war democracy.

Dimitra Xirou, the mother of Argyris Argyropoulos, the stabbed barber, seethed with anger at the nearby hospital, while holding vigil for her son.

The 43-year-old Mr Argyropoulos, came within an millimetre of death when he was robbed for just 10 euros, with the knife just missing his heart.

“It is us who have no one to protect us,” Mrs Xirou said. “We are hungry, we have no jobs, there is crime everywhere.

“It used to be one of the best districts of Athens and now it is slum that we can’t escape because the Pakistanis all come here when they arrive in Athens.”

While the attacks have not specifically been backed by the powerful Orthodox Church, some priests have reportedly been involved in the protests.

Metropolitan Omyotis Moiysides, the local priest in Mrs Xirou’s Panteleiomon district, said the crime wave sweeping Athens as the economy disintegrated was forcing residents to fight back.

“I understand why the people are crying for help. I was pulled from my car and robbed,” he said. “The police do not come and stop these crimes, so the people have to defend themselves.”

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