ATHENS, Sept 25 Greeks took to the streets of
Athens on Wednesday against the fatal stabbing of an anti-racism
rapper by a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party, which
a new poll found has lost a third of its support since the
The death of 34-year-old Pavlos Fissas has fired outrage
across the political spectrum against a party that is widely
regarded as neo-Nazi and whose popularity has so far appeared
immune to accusations of brutality and violence.
Golden Dawn denies the neo-Nazi label and any involvement in
the attack, saying it is the target of a witch-hunt.
Anti-fascist rallies planned to coincide with a 48-hour
public sector strike on Wednesday have overshadowed anger over
layoffs demanded by EU/IMF lenders, and hundreds began gathering
in the central Syntagma square for a memorial concert.
Marches by university students, labour unions and leftists
are expected to culminate later in an anti-fascism demonstration
outside parliament, the scene of often violent anti-governmemt
protests in the past.
"The heinous and cowardly murder of anti-fascist Pavlos
Fissas has revealed ... that Golden Dawn is the enemy of
democracy," public sector union ADEDY said.
Local radio played an anti-fascist anthem against Greece's
Nazi occupation during World War Two.
Golden Dawn is Greece's third most popular party and the
most visible symptom of discontent over state corruption and a
deep economic crisis that has fuelled hostility to immigrants.
But polls since Fissas' killing show support for the party
has fallen rapidly. An ALCO survey for the Newsit.gr website,
conducted in the days after the stabbing, found support for the
party fell by 4 percentage points to 6.8 percent.
Nearly 80 percent of Greeks said such violent acts were a
threat to democracy.
"Golden Dawn voters haven't changed their minds, they're
simply not saying who they'll vote for because of the current
climate of terror," the party responded in a statement.
Golden Dawn rose from being a fringe party to win 18 seats
in parliament in elections last year and has since won support
among Greeks struggling to make ends meet by organising frequent
"Greeks-only" food handouts.
Human rights' groups have long linked Golden Dawn
supporters, dressed in black and often seen giving Nazi-style
salutes, to violent attacks on immigrants, something the party
Fissas's killing has led to an investigation into the party
for evidence linking it to the attack. It has also prompted an
unprecedented shake-up of Greek police following reports that
Golden Dawn party cells were operating within the force.
"Part of society, disappointed by the errors of the
traditional political system, silently accepted practices that
threaten democracy," the union representing Greek telecom
employees said. "Enough is enough."