Athens mayor raps fascist bullying

Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis on Tuesday condemned the second show of force in as many days against officials on his new municipal council by members of the extreme-right organization Chrysi Avgi, which has had a representative on the committee since last October.

?All those who believe that they can impose their outdated views and practices upon Athens will draw only our condemnation,? Kaminis said in a written statement following reports that a left-wing municipal councilor had been verbally attacked and harassed by a member of Chrysi Avgi in the run-down neighborhood of Aghios Panteleimonas, near central Athens. The attack on Maria Kanellopoulou – a resident of Aghios Panteleimonas, which has a large migrant population – came just a day after Nikos Michaloliakos, another municipal councilor and the leader of Chrysi Avgi, provoked outrage by making the Nazi salute during a council meeting. Kaminis said that such actions were ?unacceptable? but would not be given undue attention. ?Athens has chosen the field in which solutions to its major problems will be sought: that of democracy. We will not be swayed by those who attempt to impose herd behavior,? the mayor?s statement added.

Michaloliakos?s behavior during Monday?s council meeting – he made the Nazi salute twice following a tense exchange with another leftist councilor – also drew the criticism of the president of the municipal council, Panagiotis Beis, and Kaminis?s conservative predecessor, Nikitas Kaklamanis. ?No one is allowed to come here with guns in their pockets, calling themselves bodyguards,? Beis said, referring to the eight heavy-set men who accompanied Michaloliakos to the council meeting on Monday.

The strongest words came from Petros Constantinou, the left-wing councilor with whom Michaloliakos clashed at the municipal council meeting. ?The Nazi salute given by the fuhrer of Chrysi Avgi during a municipal council meeting… and the presence there of armed heavies has made it clear that this so-called political organization is nothing more than a neo-Nazi faction,? Constantinou said.