Jewish council welcomes ouster of minister after racist tweets

Jewish council welcomes ouster of minister after racist tweets

In a letter on Thursday to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece welcomed a decision to remove Independent Greeks (ANEL) MP Dimitris Kammenos from the Greek cabinet following an outcry over a series of racist and homophobic tweets by the right-wing politician.

The board expressed its “satisfaction” at the decision to remove Kammenos from the post of deputy transport minister just hours after his appointment, saying the MP had expressed “hideous and insulting views against the Jews, against civilization and against the democratic feeling of the Greek society.”

Kammenos’s removal from the cabinet “sent a clear message against racism and anti-Semitism,” the council’s statement said.

Panayiotis Sgouridis, a more moderate member of ANEL who is to replace Kammenos as deputy infrastructure, transport and networks minister, is to be sworn in on Friday with another two cabinet members who were unable to attend the original swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday.

ANEL, which was formed in 2012 by breakaway MPs from conservative New Democracy who had become disgruntled with continuing austerity, reacted angrily on Thursday to criticism from ND over the Kammenos affair.

In a statement, ANEL’s party secretary, Yiannis Moiras, said some of the ND officials who were criticizing ANEL over Kammenos’s views had been “leaders of pro-junta groupings or far-right, racist, xenophobic parties.”

Kammenos has claimed not to have written the controversial tweets, maintaining that his Twitter account had been managed by more than 15 aides and suggesting it may have been hacked. His account was deactivated on Wednesday when he was forced to quit.

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