AN attempt by the extremist far-right Golden Dawn party to stage a “Greeks-only” hand out of food in defiance of a city ban has ended with Athens’ mayor saying a party MP tried to punch him and draw a gun.
The punch missed its target, landing instead on a 12-year-old girl, according to witnesses yesterday. Security guards restrained the legislator, Giorgos Germenis, with television footage showing them marching him out of the building.
“The only thing these people know is the language of violence,” mayor Giorgos Kaminis said on state television after the attempted attack at a city charity distribution centre in Athens that he had been visiting.
The party, whose members have been repeatedly linked with violent attacks on Greece’s large immigrant population, had said it would give food to needy Greeks in Syntagma Square, opposite parliament, ahead of Sunday’s Orthodox Easter.
Mr Kaminis had banned such events in the city’s central square and vowed on Wednesday night not to allow the “soup kitchen of hate” to take place.
Party members, the Golden Dawn logo emblazoned across the back of their black T-shirts, arrived at the square more than two hours earlier than announced and began handing out bags of food after checking recipients’ identity cards. Scuffles broke out between party members and riot police as authorities prevented the party’s truck from unloading its cargo of meat and other goods. Police used pepper spray to repel party members holding Greek flags on thick wooden sticks, and the truck was eventually forced to move on. The party resumed its distribution from party offices in an inner Athens district.
Mr Kaminis later visited a municipal food distribution centre in the same area when he was confronted by Mr Germenis.
“This man sneaked in, we didn’t notice him … and he tried to hit me,” Mr Kaminis told Vima FM radio. “At the last minute my personal guards stopped him. This man is armed. He attempted to pull [the gun].”
Golden Dawn, a once-marginal group fond of Nazi literature and symbols but which rejects the neo-Nazi label, is now Greece’s third most popular party and won 18 of parliament’s 300 seats in elections last year.