NEWS

Golden Dawn clashes with Roma during raid on Kalamata hospital days after video challenge

Members of Kalamata's Roma community in the southern Peloponnese on Monday night nearly came to blows with a group of ultranationalist Golden Dawn representatives who were at the local general hospital demanding identification papers from private nurses to determine whether they were Greek or foreign, local media reported on Tuesday.

Golden Dawn, which was elected into Parliament in June on a rabid anti-migrant platform, has been raiding hospitals around the country in a bid to locate foreign workers and apply pressure on hospital administrations to ban them from working.

On Monday, a group of Roma men had brought a 22-year-old member of their community into the Kalamata general hospital with injuries, which, they said, had been the result of a racially-motivated attack. When they saw the Golden Dawn representatives, which included MP Dimitris Koukoutsis, they accused them of inciting the attack and nearly came to blows with the far-rightists.

Hospital security staff called in the police to help break up the scuffle.

The altercation, meanwhile, comes days after a leading member of a Roma settlement in Komotini in northern Greece challenged Golden Dawn to open combat following statements by a member of the ultranationalist group that the Roma are not Greeks.

A video posted on YouTube in late March showed Roma men wielding guns, axes and chainsaws, and challenging Golden Dawn to conduct a raid on their settlement, which is on the outskirts of Komotini.

"I have a lot of crazy guys behind me Michaloliakos," a man on the video says as he pats another man pointing a gun at the camera on the back, addressing the head of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos. "You will have to send a lot of guys to my camp."

"Michaloliakos, round up your dogs," the man says.

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