More than 2,000 people queued on Wednesday to receive free food outside Golden Dawn’s headquarters in Athens after the far-right party was banned from conducting the handout in Attikis Square.
The police’s decision to forbid all public gatherings, as it did last week when German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble visited Greece, came after Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said he would not allow Golden Dawn to use the central square for its “Greeks only” event. Kaminis congratulated the police and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias for helping him to prevent the handout taking place in a public square.
The authorities’ actions, however, failed to deter Golden Dawn and its supporters and the venue was switched to the party’s offices near Larissis Station. Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos used the occasion to deliver a speech to the crowd, which booed whenever he mentioned foreigners or people of other race and the word “democracy.” The handout coincided with the anniversary of democracy being restored to Greece after the collapse of the military dictatorship, which the far-right party exalts. “The are celebrating the so-called anniversary of democracy but in fact they are celebrating the arrival of the kleptocracy, scandals and betrayal,” said Golden Dawn’s leader.
Earlier, Michaloliakos’s wife Eleni Zaroulia, who is also an MP, caused outrage when she referred to SYRIZA deputy Yiannis Dragasakis’s daughter as a “junkie” and asked whether she was still in jail. According to reports, she was arrested in March with three other suspects for allegedly possessing drugs and selling weapons. Zaroulia’s comments were wiped from parliamentary records and prompted Parliament Speaker Evangelos Meimarakis to threaten her with expulsion. “The phrases used are disgusting and are more excessive than anything that has been heard until today,” he said.