‘Church is with us’ on citizenship, says LAOS

A bid to grant citizenship to thousands of second-generation immigrants caused more intense debate over the weekend as the right-wing nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) claimed it has the Church of Greece’s support in opposing the draft law. LAOS held a special congress on Saturday to discuss the proposals drawn up by the government, under which children born in Greece to immigrant parents would be able to apply for citizenship if their father or mother has been living here legally for at least five years and the child has completed at least three years of schooling in the country. It is estimated that 250,000 youngsters would qualify for citizenship and 150,000 of those would be able to apply in time to vote in local elections later this year. LAOS is opposed to the bill and has demanded a referendum but leader Giorgos Karatzaferis suggested that he would abandon this request if PASOK holds a vote among its own MPs to see if they are in favor. Nevertheless, the LAOS leader encouraged people to take to the streets to protest against the government’s proposals and to drum up support for a referendum. «Greece is saying ‘no’ to this bill because it does not want Hellenism to be diluted,» said Karatzaferis. «Greece belongs to its history: We were building the Parthenon when they were still living in trees.» He went on to claim that the leadership of the Church of Greece supports LAOS’s bid to hold a referendum and will sign such a petition. Karatzaferis also said he will collect signatures from other European countries. In contrast, the Communist Party (KKE) issued a statement calling on the government to legalize all immigrants and to grant citizenship to all young migrants at 18.

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