A damning report in The Australian, linking the Greek community to neo-Nazis has outraged the community. The report that appeared in Thursday’s edition of The Australian, entitled ‘Greek neo-Nazis set up local chapter’ also appeared on the front page of the newspaper with members of Golden Dawn holding Greek flags.
The article which reported the right-wing extremist party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) have set up an Australian chapter has sparked an outcry by the community who have suggested that these discussions may be a “media beat up.” As it stands, Golden Dawn do not appear to have set up a local chapter but this report has created a premature discussion about this based on the Facebook page Xrysh Avgh Melbourne (Golden Dawn Melbourne).
Panayiotis Diamadis, Australian Hellenic Council NSW, Media and Policy Director, went as far to say the report in The Australian associating the term neo-Nazi with the Greek community was damaging for the community.
“The very fact it’s on the front page, Greek neo-Nazis with the Greek flag associated it is enough for [readers] to glance at the page and make the association which is very dangerous for our community,” Mr Diamadis tells Neos Kosmos.
By discussing a Facebook page, Mr Diamadis says this does not mean that Golden Dawn have in fact opened a local chapter in Australia, as the newspaper report suggests. He says that the article is nothing but a “media beat up” and “just because someone has created a Facebook page…it’s hardly what you would call an organisational branch office”.
Bill Papastergiadis, President, Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne and Victoria also believes that this may be a “media beat up” but is also vehemently opposed to Golden Dawn having a presence in Australia.
The Facebook page entitled Xrysh Avgh Melbourne (Golden Dawn Melbourne) was picked up by reporters at The Australian who contacted members of the Greek and Jewish communities about their concern of this party creating an Australian following. But since Thursday’s article, the Facebook page has either been removed by its administrators or Facebook itself. Facebook has the authority to delete pages they believe insight racial vilification.
The Facebook page attracted more than 2500 followers, most of whom came from overseas. There were no contact details for the creators of this page, nor did any members put their names or faces to any of the comments. The group were planning to hold meetings to discuss nationalistic policies and widen their appeal outside of Greece – targeting one of the largest Greek communities of the diaspora – Melbourne. They stated that they would translate articles from Greece for their English speaking audience to allow the “Hellenic diaspora to understand the political and [sic] destruction being caused to Mother Hellas”.
The article itself has sparked a new concern within community leaders and politicians who have condemned any presence of the party Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) in Australia. They state that the racial ideologies the party possess have no place in Australia.
“The story of migration of Greek Australians to this country has been a success story and our involvement and participation in Australia has underpinned – to a substantial degree – multiculturalism,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“[The Greek community are] inherently linked with multicultural policies of this country, big supporters of those policies and participants in all of that and hence anything that really challenges that position I don’t believe has much cred or full support in our community.”
Golden Dawn are a right-wing extremist party – linked to neo-Nazism and Fascism – who received 18 seats in Greek parliament on the back of the economic and political crisis in Greece. They have targeted migrant minorities in Greece as causing the crisis, and have gone as far to suggest landmines as part of Greece’s border protection
Jeremy Jones, Director of International and Community Affair, Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, says that the Jewish community is aware of Golden Dawn’s emergence in Greece and finds it concerning.
“I have seen reports of openly Nazi material on display in their party headquarters,” he tells Neos Kosmos. “Mein Kampf, which was written by Adolf Hitler, alongside works of other racial superiority so the Golden Dawn movement is something that we are very concerned with and I am yet to meet a person from Greece or in Greece who also isn’t concerned that a group like this could be emerging.”
He went on to say that because Australia is a country where people are either born overseas, or have their roots in other countries that “political movements which have no direct relevance to Australia” may surface.
“It’s bad enough they emerge in a particular social setting with the crisis in Greece but for people in Australia to be supporting this idea is so repugnant especially when you consider you are talking about an anti-immigrant party growing up in a group of immigrants you’d think they would realise the stupidity of what they are doing.”
The emergence of this Facebook group has alarmed members of the Greek community in Australia.
“There is absolutely no place for Golden Dawn in Melbourne,” the Minister for Multiculturalism and Citizenship, Nicholas Kotsiras tells Neos Kosmos.
“It’s offensive and I just believe individuals involved are ill-informed and ignorant who need to read and find out what’s really going on rather than exploiting the [political] situation [in Greece].”
Mr Papastergiadis says: “My personal view is that it’s a small element that is not representative of our community in any sense.”
In June this year, Neos Kosmos reported on the purported presence of Golden Dawn in Australia. This report detailed comments made by Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros to the ABC in May, stating that “three or four offices are going to be formed” in Australia.