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Old 10-11-2014, 12:24 PM   #551
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Leaders of Greek-Australian community, unions and lobby groups condemn Golden Dawn’s policies and ‘hateful attitudes’

Michael Safi

Wednesday 3 September 2014

theguardian.com

http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-ethnic-groups

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Senior leaders of the Greek-Australian community have joined the heads of other ethnic lobby groups and union officials to denounce a proposed visit by European MPs representing Greece’s neo-Nazi party, Golden Dawn.

“The planned visit to Australia in October by two members of the extremist Greek political party, Golden Dawn, is a matter that should concern all Australians,” the statement, signed by the honorary secretary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocesan Council, Nicholas Pappas, among others, said.

Golden Dawn’s Australian branch announced last week that two of the ultra-nationalist group’s MEPs, former military commanders Eleftherios Synadinos and Georgios Epitideios, would visit later in the year to raise awareness and funds.

The statement, which has been sent to the federal attorney general, George Brandis, and the immigration minister, Scott Morrison, accused Golden Dawn of “promot[ing] hateful attitudes towards women and espous[ing] the marginalisation and suppression of people who it deems to have an ‘unnatural’ sexuality”.

“These prejudices are entirely incompatible with the vision of a peaceful, tolerant, multicultural Australia that promotes harmony and cooperation across all parts of society,” it said.

“Australians have a proud record of bravery and sacrifice in fighting and defeating fascism in the 20th century.

“We call on all Australians to unite once more to demonstrate their detestation of the message of hatred and the violent politics being propagated by groups like Golden Dawn.”

The Holocaust-denying party has ridden a wave of misery since Greece’s economic downturn to become the third-biggest political force in Athens. Human rights groups have accused Golden Dawn members of directing or fomenting hundreds of street attacks on dark-skinned immigrants, gay people and Muslims.

A crackdown last year saw the arrest of the party’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, and five of its MPs, on charges that included murder, extortion and money laundering. They say the charges are a political witchhunt.

Golden Dawn’s Australian convenor, Ignatius Gavrilidis, has denied the organisation has a neo-Nazi ideology, but admits its Greek leadership “admire[s] the leadership of Hitler”.

“We also admire the leadership of many strong leaders across the world,” Gavrilidis told the ABC last week. “Vladimir Putin is a very strong leader. He’s got integrity. Binyamin Netanyahu is a very strong leader.”

To enter Australia, the MEPs Synadinos and Epitideios will have to pass a character test, which prohibits visitors who “have, or have had, an association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct” or might “incite discord in the Australian community”.

Black-shirted Golden Dawn followers clashed with Greek-Australian leftists during a protest in Brisbane in May that was also attended by supporters of the far-right Australia First party.

Members of anti-fascist groups in Melbourne have told Guardian Australia they aim to blockade any events involving Golden Dawn members. “The ultimate goal is to stop them from having their meeting,” one organiser, Alex Kakafikas, said.

The chairman of the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils, Joe Caputo, the president of Muslims Australia, Hafez Kassem, and the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Ged Kearney, were among those who signed the statement.

Despite its senior leadership being behind bars, the organisation made significant gains in European elections in May, capturing 9.4% of the vote and three seats in the Brussels parliament.

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