NEWS

Gov't freezes anti-racism bill for 'reassessment'

An anti-racism bill aimed at reining in the ultra-right Golden Dawn by banning from politics MPs found to have been involved in racist violence will be "reassessed" before its submission to Parliament, Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis said on Friday.

The bill, which also foresees lawmakers using Nazi imagery or salutes in Parliament having their immunity lifted and losing their right to stand for office, had been scheduled to be put to public consultation on Friday.

Roupakiotis said that State Minister Dimitris Stamatis and the government's general secretary, Panayiotis Baltakos, would review the anti-racism bill as "its social parameters must be examined more thoroughly." On Wednesday, Roupakiotis had said the bill was "basically ready." The minister added that all political parties, apart from one, were ready to embrace new reforms that would criminalize the phenomenon of racist violence and xenophobia.

According to sources, the government's back-pedaling on the bill comes amid fears of making martyrs of Golden Dawn MPs, many of whom have been linked to racist attacks. A head-on clash with Golden Dawn could end up boosting the ultra-right party by making it appear to be persecuted, some government officials sources fear.

The Communist Party (KKE) is also said to have voiced objections to the bill which, according to the party, "supports and includes European Union decisions and laws which, on the pretext of tackling racism, target and curb the political activities of parties that oppose the exploitative system and the EU."

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