Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias on Friday crossed swords with deputies from the ultranationalist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) party in Parliament over recent actions by the latter against the government’s policy on illegal immigration.
Dendias slammed the party, saying that “raid brigades will not be tolerated,” after members of Golden Dawn, dressed in combat pants and black T-shirts bearing the party’s insignia, clashed with police during the transfer of dozens of migrants detained during the ongoing “Xenios Zeus” operation to clamp down on illegal immigrants to a military base in the Peloponnesian city of Corinth.
“Raid brigades across the country, who trade upon national symbols, will not be tolerated. Any such phenomenon will be crushed,” Dendias said.
He was speaking on Friday ahead of a planned anti-racism rally in central Athens and concerns that Golden Dawn members could try to disrupt it.
Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris had lambasted the government for allowing the rally to take place, saying that “the Constitution protects gatherings of Greeks and not of foreigners.”
The rally was attended by around 3,000 people protesting dozens of recent racially motivated attacks and the lack of response from the authorities. No major incidents were reported.
Meanwhile, tensions continued in Corinth over the use of the military base as a detention center for some 400 migrants arrested during a police sweep in central Athens after failing to produce proper documentation. The migrants will be held at the base as they await deportation, but the move has prompted reactions from local authorities and residents.
On Thursday, the Corinth Municipality cut off the water supply to the camp for several hours and then convened a meeting in order to plan a protest rally that was held on Friday evening. The deputy mayor on Friday questioned the legality of the transfer.
“If the transfer was legal, then why wasn’t it done during the day instead of at night?” Haralambos Kambouris said to Kathimerini. “We do not want [the camp] to become a migrant detention center because there are schools and sports facilities nearby. The camp is near the city center. The law for detention centers says that they need to be located far away from inhabited areas.”