Around 25,000 Greek anti fascists demonstrated against Golden Dawn in Athens on Saturday 19 January – the biggest anti fascist protest in Greece in living memory. A small delegation from UAF proudly joined them.
The main chant on the protest was “Athens will be Nazi Free”, aimed at the fascist Golden Dawn which gained 18 MPs in the Greek parliament with 7 percent of the vote in June 2012. Golden Dawn is a fascist party in the classic sense, prepared to use both elections and street actions to build its organisation.
The demonstration was addressed by Syriza’s Dimitis Tsoukalas MP and a range of centre left and left local councilors in Athens.
Saba Banis a student at Athens Polytechnic told us, “the situation is very frightening, Golden Dawn is encouraging violence against migrants and the left….In some areas of the city they behave like they control the streets. Hopefully today will be an important step in reclaiming back our city for everyone.”
As a show of international solidarity the UAF delegation was asked to lead the demonstration. We were joined by the friends and family of Shehzad Luqman. Shehzad was a 27 year old Pakistani migrant worker. He was attacked and stabbed to death as he rode his bicycle to work in the early hours of the morning just two days before the protest.
Two of his alleged murderers have since been arrested—they are supporters of Golden Dawn. Police found weapons, a pile of Golden Dawn leaflets and on the wall a picture of Golden Dawn’s leader in one of the assailant’s homes.
Gazala Khan a friend of Shehzad explained why she believed urgent action was needed to stop Golden Dawn. “I am here to make sure Shehzad is never forgotten. I will not sit back and allow Muslims or the poor to be blamed for the economic crisis that is ripping this country apart.”
The demonstration and music festival was organised by KEERFA, a broad based Greek anti fascist group. Formed in 2000, it is a coalition of trade unions, anti racist, migrant organizations, centre and left parties, who have come together to oppose fascism.
KEERFA’s has set itself three goals in the coming months:
1) Forming local groups to campaign against Golden Dawn.
2) It is calling on all European anti fascist groups to come together to give each other support and create a united response to the rise of fascism across Europe.
3) It has called a demonstration demanding the closure of Golden Dawns offices in Athens on 9 February.
KEERFA’s national organiser, Petros Constantinou, will be speaking at the national conference.
Stopping the rise of racism and fascism
– Celebrating multiculturalism
– Challenging Islamophobia
Saturday 2 March
Congress Centre, TUC, Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3LS