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Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens


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Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens

  1. 1. Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of AthensAuthors:E. K. Panteion University, GreeceMarlene van Eijsden University of Amsterdam, The NetherlandsDoreth van Manen Radboud University, The NetherlandsNia Institute, Athens, Greece Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 1
  2. 2. Table of Contents1. Introduction................................................................................................................................................................ 3 Views vs Representations...................................................................................................................................................................... 3 Reflections on the field........................................................................................................................................................................... 4 A brief history of Golden Dawn.......................................................................................................................................................... 72. The images of Golden Dawn................................................................................................................................... 8 Defining oneself by looking at Others.............................................................................................................................................. 8 How Golden Dawn sees itself............................................................................................................................................................... 9 How Golden Dawn is seen by the rest of the World................................................................................................................... 9 How Golden Dawn is seen by Greek citizens.............................................................................................................................. 10 How Golden Dawn is seen by (irregular) immigrants........................................................................................................... 13 How former, now settled immigrants see Golden Dawn....................................................................................................... 15 How a police officer, a member of EGAM, and Ioanna Kourtovik see Golden Dawn.................................................16 Images in the street.............................................................................................................................................................................. 193. Conclusion................................................................................................................................................................ 21 Questions and Proposals for Further Research......................................................................................................................... 23Bibliography................................................................................................................................................................. 24 Greek Bibliography............................................................................................................................................................................... 24 Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 2
  3. 3. 1. IntroductionSince 2008, the far-right Greek political party Golden Dawn has grown enormously and, during theelections of June 20121, has even won almost 7% of the parliamentary vote. Some people in Greece saythat the reason for this party to become so popular has to do with the economic crisis in combinationwith the great number of foreigners in the country. Others argue that Golden Dawn has won so manyvotes due to the fact that Greek citizens only voted for this party out of protest, not wanting to vote forthe other big parties, such as PASOK and Nea-Democratia. Others again say that Golden Dawn hasbecome popular, because the media often define (irregular) immigrants as people who are killing orstealing. This, together with the fact that Golden Dawn has as its mission to protect its Greek citizensby cleaning up the (irregular) immigrants, makes them popular among Greeks.So the question is: What defines Golden Dawn? How do they present themselves? And do the views ofGolden Dawn, as held by other countries, Greek citizens, (irregular) immigrants and various authoritiesand nonprofit organizations within Greece, match their own self-image? In order to answer thisquestion, the text below will describe how several countries in the world, how Greek citizens,(irregular) immigrants, a Greek police officer and a Greek lawyer view Golden Dawn. Important tonote is that all of this information is based on personal interviews, held between the 8 th and 14th ofJanuary 2013, as a research assignment of the seminar “Migration at the Margins of Europe,” anelement of the winter school organized by the Netherlands Institute Athens (NIA).Views vs RepresentationsWe chose the term "views" instead of "representations" for a number of reasons. First of all, in order topresent a social representation, the target group of people interviewed should be large enough so as tojustify the use of such a term. Because of the short period of time this project took, it is practicallyimpossible to talk about representations. Other than that, a representation as the way members of asociety perceive a given phenomenon is a term more familiar to a social anthropologist than to otherscientists, thus "view" appeared to be more appropriate. Finally, during our first discussions on theresearch subject and the project setup, we discovered that our research focus, Xrisi Avgi, changed from1{"cls":"main","params":{}} Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 3
  4. 4. being a nonphysical discussion topic or joke to a concrete entity that had won votes in the recentelections as a political party, with certain symbols being mostly found on walls around the centre ofAthens and beyond. The interesting point in this transition to physical concreteness are the "dialogues"between people of diametrically opposed political orientations apparently taking place on walls, andconducted by direct means of spray-painting or symbol erasure. In our view, even if symbols of eitherside were "erased", it did support our use of the term “dialogue” for this ongoing interaction for thepurposes of our analysis.Reflections on the fieldSince the group that conducted the research comprised a political scientist (Marlene van Eijsden), ahuman geographer (Doreth Van Manen) and a social anthropologist (Eleni Koufoudaki), we thoughtthat some reflection on the fieldwork exercise would be useful."Reflection" is a term that was developed in social anthropology during the 80s, when the approach ofcultural critique was well under way. We decided to add this part to the paper because one of the pointsof cultural critique is that:"The texts that [social] anthropology produces cannot in any way be conceived as neutral. That is thereason why [cultural critique] addresses the reflective description of the circumstances under which[each text is produced] –with clear reference to the ethnographer himself-" (Gefou-Madianou, 1998)As for the social anthropologist, my part as the Greek speaker of the group proved unnecessary, first ofall because we had only one newcomer in Athens, secondly because our informants could communicatewell in English, and last but not least, it turned out that all the members of the research group wereculturally confident and coping very well with instances of cultural difference, whenever suchoccasions emerged. Consequently, I was free to observe and concentrate on fieldwork more thananything else. The cooperation among the group members was also more than fine.Another interesting point is that, through this research project, we managed to discover the "other faceof Athens", which is just beneath the surface, but for which, in order to obtain a glimpse of it, one hasto have a legitimate reason, e.g. being a participant-observer. This does not imply of course that people Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 4
  5. 5. are hostile to Athenians or others, but we felt that our being introduced either as researchers or socialworkers opened doors not only to the communities studied, but also to cafes belonging to migrants andto other places where they interacted socially.Staying with how somebody introduces himself, a point worth considering is that migrants opened upwhenever we made clear that we were not asking for documents ("hartia" as some told us 2), but onlywanted to hear their stories as "social workers". In this respect, we were fortunate that our Somalianinformant, who granted us the first interview, used to work as a social worker before he left Somalia, sohe saw us more as colleagues.After the above clarifications, we found ourselves in the Somalian cafe, frequented mainly by new-comers, seeking help and information for their new lives in Greece. When we asked how theysupported themselves in Athens without any official documents and a paying job, they repeatedly toldus "We are a family here... You dont want your brother to have nothing, you help in any way you can".Many people, whether with or without legal documents, were eager to tell us their stories, even whenverbal communication was not feasible due to linguistic barriers. Some people asked us to write downtheir name in the interview even if they carried no documents. To us, that was a clear sign of trust andtheir will to be heard.We wonder what effect the presence of a Greek national had on the way they expressed themselves.There is a feeling in our group that migrants open up more easily to foreigners, especially when theyare women. In any case, all of them complained about the state institutions, but none expressednegative attitudes towards Greek people, on the contrary many emphasised how helpful Greeks can be.Last but not least, none of the people from the African migrant communities we interviewed hadfriendly connections with Greeks.The role of the human geographer had mainly to do with the map which we were able to make duringthe presentation. We wanted to create an image of Athens, to show the different meanings of the graffitiin the streets. We wanted to show how graffiti changed meanings due to different group interventions.Also, we presented a ‘danger’ map of Athens in which we were able to point out different dangerous2 "The existence of a person is dependent on the documents he holds" (translated from: Petrakou (2001)) Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 5
  6. 6. areas according to what various groups of people had told us. I find it important to stress theimportance of a map during fieldwork. However, because of the fact that I did not have the Athensdatabase, I was unable to use GIS for this paper. Instead, I worked with Google Earth, which is a usefultool, especially for presentations. However, due to the lack of a scientific computer program, I decidednot to include the map in the paper (Van Manen, 2013).My most recent fieldwork was in Norway, where I worked on integration issues in Oslo. So, I alreadyhad experience in the field, which helped me a lot during this fieldwork. Also, I knew at first hand thatthe issues we were addressing here were extremely sensitive, so it was important to talk with the otherresearchers about our experiences. I felt that it was an advantage to conduct the interview with anotherDutch girl and a Greek girl. We were open and friendly, which helped us a lot in collecting theinformation. (Van Manen, 2013).Women were absent from our interactions with the people. They were somewhere inside the Somaliancafe. They only appeared when passing by, and never talked to us. There were also moments we werestared at, or caught confused glimpses from those around us. Yet when our presence there wassomehow explained, people gathered around us asking about the project and sharing their ownexperiences on the topic.We end these reflections admitting that we did not have the opportunity to contact Golden Dawn itself,directly and officially. We only managed to approach them indirectly through the press and theirofficial website. The closest we came to an interview with them was with someone who had voted forthem in the last elections, but voters cannot act as official spokesmen of the views of a party. It isintriguing how the party labelled us as "people from the press" and refused to allow us to have moreinformation or allow us a glimpse behind the facade of its official discourse.Furthermore, we learned during this fieldwork exercise that buying a small present for each informantis polite and that people always appreciate it, whether they decide to keep it as a personal gift, or toshare it with the rest of the community. As Marcel Mauss pointed out, a gift creates bonds (M.Mauss1923). Our interaction with the informants was limited, but judging from the way people reacted when Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 6
  7. 7. we offered these presents, a gift really creates a bond no matter how short-lived that can be. When weoffered such a gift to a member of a community we were immediately re-invited there. In the Somaliancommunity, it also played a role, since after our second time there, we were asked to provide help.A brief history of Golden DawnAs documentary producer Konstantinos Georgousis points out in his documentary `The Cleaners`, thefar-right Greek political party Golden Dawn came from nowhere and succeeded in winning 7% of theparliamentary vote during the elections of June 2012. According to him, the rising unemployment incombination with the deeply-felt economic crisis have led to an increasing number of Greek citizensstarting to vote for Golden Dawn, because they believed this party would perhaps offer a possiblesolution to their problems. Others, however, believe that it is not the economic crisis and the risingunemployment that made the party more popular. Instead, they believe that the media played a veryimportant role. This will be explained later on. Additionally, contrary to Georgousiss vision, professorDimitris Dalakoglou notes that in recent years Golden Dawn did indeed grow more and more, butaccording to him they already started their upward trend in the 1990s. According to an article publishedonline by Pikramenos, the 90s signify a period during which Greek public opinion and the "nationalistreflexes" of the party were provoked by a series of incidents such as the name issue in 1992-1993between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece, the Imia incident in 1996, and theOtsalan issue in 1999, which is how the rise of the far-right party becomes explicable. In a sense, andup to a point both are right, but it was actually already in December 1980 that Golden Dawn wasestablished. In 1992, they drew up their platform, and in June 1993 they took part in the elections forthe European Parliament for the first time. Between 1993 and 2008, they kept to the background,although Dalakoglou notes in his article ´City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action´that one of the most notorious attacks of Golden Dawn against left-wing activists was the attemptedmurder of the Leftist student Dimitris Kousouris on the 16 th June 1998, by Golden Dawns PoliticalCommittee member, Andritsopoulos.3 As such, it can be concluded that, although Golden Dawn gainedmore and more power from 2008 onwards, it already existed and was active from the 1980s onwards.Continuing with the rise of Golden Dawn in recent years, Regina Mantanika and Hara Kouki note intheir article ´The spatiality of a social struggle in Greece at the time of the IMF´ that since 2010, a3 Article City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action p.542 from Dalakoglou Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 7
  8. 8. significant shift has emerged in the political landscape of Greece with the fact that the extreme-rightparty Golden Dawn was elected for the first time at local authority level in Athens4. 2. The images of Golden DawnIn Chapter 2, the focus is on the different images of Golden Dawn, expressed by different groups inGreek society and beyond. In order to understand the way groups look at other groups, we start with anexplanation of the term ´others´. Next, the different groups will be presented.Defining oneself by looking at OthersIn this paper, we analyze the rise of Golden Dawn and the way the party sees itself, and how othergroups view them. In order to do so, we use the concepts of Van Houtum , in whose work others aredefined by self-redefinition. In his article, Van Houtum (2005) points out that the concept of bordershas changed over time. For instance: “it has been claimed that the difference between the ontology ofborders, the study of what borders are, and the epistemology of borders, the study of what and how weknow what borders are, has decreased if not disappeared” (Van Houtum, 2005, p. 674). Van Houtum´sview (2005) is important when explaining how others see us. The borders are not only betweennations, but also between cities and groups. Over the years, it has become clearer that a border is asocial construct. “The insight that the making of borders is the product of our own social practices andhabitus has led to the study of borders beyond merely states or nations. As this insight also applies toterritories other than states, such as (macro-)regions, cities or neighbourhoods, a border has becomeless automatically connected to states alone, making the claim of a territorial trap in the present studiesin theory less applicable.” (Van Houtum, 2005, p. 674).Golden Dawn is not only self-defined by its ideology, but also by others outside the party.After the recent rise in the percentages of Golden Dawn, there seems to be a change not only in thegeography of Athens and especially its centre where our project took place. There seems to be asignificant change in what people started to conceive as a "dangerous area" and accordingly, there4Regina Mantanika and Hara Kouki, The spatiality of a social struggle in Greece at the time of theIMF p.483 Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 8
  9. 9. seems to be a change in the movements of (irregular) migrants or local Athenians in Athens, especiallywhen darkness falls. Important to note here is that we were notified by the Netherlands Institute in |Athens to avoid certain places at night.How Golden Dawn sees itselfGolden Dawn believes in nationalism. They believe they are a nationalist movement and they seethemselves as fighters of the people. “We believe in nationalism,” as they point out themselves.Furthermore, they do believe that their actions of abusing foreigners, throwing them out of the countryand cleaning the places in Athens in order to be foreigners free are legitimized by their ideology,which stands for saving Greek nationals, who nowadays are facing many threats. This perspective ofmigration as a threat to a given nation state is noted by researchers (Caldwell 2002). “As pureGreeks, we are not willing to sell the country to foreign interests. We believe in an independent Greeksociety.” In addition, the members of Golden Dawn stipulate that "[We] are not fascists depending onhow they, (that is the others), define fascists". That is clearly stated in the official documents wedownloaded from the partys website.How Golden Dawn is seen by the rest of the WorldWhen crossing borders inside Europe and even when leaving Europe for America, Israel and othercountries, it is interesting to note that every newspaper article written on the subject refers to GoldenDawn as a Neo-Nazi party. For example, the American magazine The New Republic reports it asfollows: “The terrifying Rise of Greeces Nazi Party. […] On the streets of Greece, it is now common knowledge among immigrants that black clothes are the unofficial uniform of the Golden Dawn, or Chrysi Avgi – a kind of cross between Hezbollah and the Tea Party. Since 2008, Golden Dawn supporters have assaulted immigrants with brass knuckles, knives, and batons. There have been nearly 500 attacks this year (2012) alone, according to the Migrant Workers Association […].” Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 9
  10. 10. The Canadian says the Neo-Nazi party has an election breakthrough in Greece; theDutch website claims that the Nazi-party said that foreigners, gays and handicappedpeople are next in line after the immigrants; the French daily newspaper Midi Libre claims that inGreece a Neo-Nazi party has entered the Greek Parliament; the German online weekly news notes that Golden Dawn is a party that is extremely negative towards immigrants. The partyis xenophobic.Interesting to take into account is that these above mentioned examples are just a few out of manymedia articles worldwide. In addition, Neo-Nazi party is not the only recent synonym for the GoldenDawn party. Also, the cleaners is often used as a synonym to refer to this party, although this is morefrequently used by the Greek citizens themselves.How Golden Dawn is seen by Greek citizensContinuing with how Greek citizens view Golden Dawn, there seem to be at least two categories ofpeople. Those who are opponents of Golden Dawn, and those who are supporters, with, of course,many positions in-between and views we cannot include here for the purposes of our analysis. This bi-polar way of presenting data is easier for the purposes of this paper . In most cases, thesecategorizations have to do with the positioning of a social agent concerning migration. Migration istreated as a "problem" in Greece. The democratic or liberal approach examines the problems migrantsface, the xenophobic approach focuses on the (alleged) problems migrants cause in Greek society(Marvakis, Parsanoglou, Pavlou 2001). Starting with the opponents of Golden Dawn, during aninterview with a Greek owning a big construction company, it became clear that he does not really havea clear, unambiguous opinion about Golden Dawn. What he does say, however, is that the immigrantsare a blessing and a curse, both at the same time. “They do not only cause problems, they also canhelp!” Furthermore, he notes that Greece is a very difficult place for immigrants to begin a new life(Marvakis, Parsanoglou, Pavlou 2001). According to him, the language is difficult to learn and it is aconservative society that is not open-minded. Although he is absolutely not against the immigrants andadopts a liberal approach towards the phenomenon of migration, he does mention that he does not feelreally safe when going into the city centre by night, but what he says is interesting to note: “The Greekpeople are blaming the immigrants for all this mess, but they should rather blame the Greek state!” Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 10
  11. 11. Another interview with two regular middle-aged Greek men pointed out that other Greek citizens votefor Golden Dawn purely as a form of punishment. A punishment, because they do not want to vote forPASOK, Nea-Democratia and other parties anymore. This, however, does not mean they are supportersof Golden Dawn and its actions. As both men stipulate "We are a small nation of eleven million people,having the same number of foreigners on top of it. Voting Golden Dawn is just a punishment. People donot know what to vote anymore, and Greek people are more and more fascist minded and notpolitically minded. Illegal migrants are only here, because the European Union funds them and theimmigrants constitute a tool for the state to reduce wages. Golden Dawn has no ideology, the politicalextremes have destroyed Greece.”Here, it is evident how, according to our informants, migrants constitute a threat towards Greek society.Following Karakasidous way of thinking "a [given] nation acts both as "a dominant value system andpractice [at the same time]" (Karakasidou, 2000). In the case under scrutiny, how the migrants arecategorized in the dominant value system is depicted in the words of our informants. It is alsoimportant how these men associate migration with the EU. As Petrakou states: "Migration in Greece ispart of a wider phenomenon that is called international [migration]" (Petrakou, 2001). This means thata certain nation state has to deal with its newcomers, yet that is a procedure that also involves otherstates and institutions that deal with migration.Continuing with the interview we held with a Greek woman of twenty-five years old, it became veryclear during the interview she is a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party. Although she does notreally have problems with legal migrants, she has many problems with illegal migrants. The distinctionshe made reminded us of the way Sassen is quoted by P. Levitt, and N. Jaworsky (2007). According toher there are:“Unauthorized yet Recognized” migrants, who have no formal status or rights but who practice theduties associated with citizenship, such as raising a family, schooling children, or holding a job. [Andthe] “Authorized yet Unrecognized” migrant citizens [who] may have full legal status but are notrecognized as political subjects because of factors such as discrimination and cultural stereotyping. Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 11
  12. 12. As she stipulated: “The immigrants are a big problem within Greece! We have legal and illegal immigrants. As a Greek citizen I dont have problems with those who are legal, but I DO have problems with those who are illegal. It is those who are creating the problems here in Greece, they create more problems than we can bear. Those who are legal and have families are fine, but the illegals should be cleaned up. I dont care how... Either by throwing them into the sea or just deporting them the way they came!”This is obviously a statement by someone who supports Golden Dawn. Furthermore, when she startedtalking about Golden Dawn and its actions, she said that Golden Dawn helps the Greek people withillegal immigrants. “Right now for us as Greek citizens it is very difficult to find a job and there is notenough space for the immigrants. The immigrants are dangerous, they steal, and kill people! GoldenDawn is just helping us to control them, by cleaning various places in the city!”The way she talked about migrants and the cause-and-effect relationship that seems to emerge from herpositioning on migrants and the rise of percentages for the far-right party is "exactly the socialconstruction of criminality according to which poverty and lack of property undoubtedly lead toperforming illegal practices. This is what makes migrants and their behaviour the cause of an"inevitable" xenophobia and racism, a wrong starting point but it really legitimizes racist attitudesthrough official practices" (Marvakis, Parsanoglou, Pavlou 2001).Sassen is seen as the most influential thinker in human geography and sociology. She looks below thesurface for the feelings in a society. In her Masterclass in Nijmegen (5th November 2012), she explaineda society has losers and winners. She uses different terms to describe the “losers”. “I use the term‘expulsed’ to describe a diversity of conditions: the growing numbers of the abjectly poor, of thedisplaced who are warehoused in formal and informal refugee camps, of the minoritized and persecutedwarehoused in prisons, of workers whose bodies are destroyed on the job and rendered useless at fartoo young an age” (Sassen, 2010, p. 24). In her paper, she explains the consequences of the capitalistsystem, where the immigrants are the losers. In her paper, she stressed that the middle class in theworld are losing. The inequality between people is growing instead of shrinking, which was the casebefore the 1980s. The fact that the middle class is shrinking, has an impact on a society. The financial Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 12
  13. 13. crisis has led to a social crisis as well. Where some groups in society are suffering much more thanothers. As she states: “One way of thinking of this systemic deepening is as the expansion of theoperational space for advanced capitalism—it expels people both in the global South and in the Northeven as it incorporates spaces” (Sassen, 2010, p. 45). Where the focus in our paper is more on theincorporates´ spaces, in our case Athens.Interesting to point out, however, is that when we asked her if she would vote for the Golden Dawnparty again in the following elections, she answered: “NO”. According to her, she voted Golden Dawnthis time, because the other parties are unable to say even one percent of the truth about the immigrantsand they are manipulated by the European Union. Golden Dawn, however, does not mention anythingabout the economic crisis and does not give any possible solutions to overcome this crisis. In ourexperience, the party has constructed most of its ideology and political positioning exactly on thegrounds of the current situation, concluding from the official documents we read. To us, we wonderwhether such a party would have reached such percentages if it had not been for the global financialcrisis and the way it has been handled by the leadership, and the political parties in Greece. Therefore,next time she will not vote for this party.How Golden Dawn is seen by (irregular) immigrantsIn order to understand how (irregular) immigrants view Golden Dawn, we visited the Tanzanian andSomalian communities. In the case of the latter, we did not have an official interview in the communitybuilding, probably due to the fact that "the place is not good and we dont want to bring you here..." aswe were told by some Somalians. During the interview with Kayu, the secretary of the Tanzaniancommunity, it became clear that there are differing views regarding Golden Dawn and its members. Anexample is when this community got attacked on the 25th of September 2012 (News, 2012 and Left.gr2012), most probably by the members of Golden Dawn. According to Kayu and the articles cited, themembers of the Tanzanian community differed in their reactions. In order to understand this, the attackwill be described first. On the 24 th of September several members of Golden Dawn were standing infront of the Tanzanian community building, which at that time was still located in the centre of Athens.Two female members entered the building and shouted those inside had to leave the building. Kayu, Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 13
  14. 14. who was inside the building, started a conversation with these women and explained that it was a legalcommunity and that they were just watching television and spending their free time by being together.In the end, it became clear that these women and the other members of Golden Dawn, who werestanding outside the building, had come to the community, because they believed the noise in the streetcame from them, which was not the case. Nevertheless, when Kayu mentioned the Tanzaniancommunity was a legal community, the members of Golden Dawn, including the two women, left. Theevening of the next day, approximately ten Tanzanians were inside the Tanzanian community buildingwatching television, when the attacks began. People started breaking down the main door of thebuilding. The Tanzanians were very afraid and called the police. It took some while, but once the policearrived they came inside and escorted the ten Tanzanians five blocks away from there, in order for themto be safe. Interesting to note is that the police did not arrest any of those attacking the building. Asalready mentioned above, this attack led to a distinction between the views of the Tanzanian citizenstowards Golden Dawn. Several Tanzanians who were in the building during the attack got really afraidof Golden Dawn and its members. Contrary to them, however, Kayu, was and still is not afraid of them,as he points out during the interview. As he says:”I hope to publish a lot regarding the actions ofGolden Dawn in the hope that they, the members of Golden Dawn, will slowly start to feel fear!” Inaddition he adds: “It is not because of the economic crisis, but because of the wrong information the Greek people are fed by the media, which allows such actions and for Golden Dawn to grow!” The media say things people like to hear, so any bad thing done by a foreigner becomes a very big issue. As a result, Greek people start hating foreigners, who in their opinion are killing and stealing!”Furthermore, it became clear during the interview that according to Kayu, the police are workingtogether with the members of Golden Dawn. This will be further described in the interview with IoannaKourtovik, who is the lawyer of Kayu and of members of the Tanzanian community.Contrary to the Tanzanians, during interviews with several Somalians, it became clear that they do nothave any idea about Golden Dawn and its actions. This appeared to be true of those who talked to us, Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 14
  15. 15. all of whom had been in Athens for only a few months. To us, their ignorance is attributed to this fact.Although the Somalian community has been attacked, as well, Somalians did not say anything about it.The time they had spent in Greece ranges from three months, to half a year for some of them. However,instead of being afraid of Golden Dawn and its members, they did tell us they were scared of thepolice. According to several Somalians, the police arrest illegal immigrants whenever they want to.One Somalian said:”I have been living here in Athens for five months now and I have already beenarrested three times, only because I dont have a pink card!How former, now settled immigrants see Golden DawnThis part of the paper examines the opinions we gathered on the party and Greek reality from migrantsbelonging to the first wave of immigrants in Greece in the 90s, as Hatziprokopiou presented themigration phenomenon in Greece during the winter course. Our data are limited again. Most of themcome from individual interviews with people and not from a formal interaction between us andestablished communities. That is because we had little time to interview members of the Bulgariancommunity and because the Serbian community was scattered throughout Athens.Yet, we managed to interview people of Bulgarian and Serbian background. What emerged from peopleof these earlier migration influxes is that they had less problems with the authorities compared toAfrican cases, but complaints on bureaucracy were made ("We are all treated as illegal migrants").They were also influenced by the arrival of the economic crisis, as everyone living in Greecenowadays. When it comes to Greek people, the interaction with them is positively perceived and inthese cases of the older migration influxes from South Eastern Europe, there are strong ties with locals,even intermarriage. As for the Bulgarians, their attitude towards Greeks tends to be slightly negative, insome cases due to xenophobic experiences.People belonging to the community of fellow nationals were described in bleak colours by myinformants. In the case of the Bulgarians, most of those who came to Greece are not like those living inBulgaria. "They are tougher". When asked why, he went on "...They came here as economic migrants,they are of a low social and educational level and have lived through hard conditions... They are Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 15
  16. 16. opportunists... The Greeks, with their behaviour towards them, made [these people] even tougher ". Ourinformant, who is of university level, tends to avoid the community and so does his mother, who is alsoacademically educated and works in her field of study. "She cant communicate with them! Theyusually have nothing in common, neither problems nor experience or interests." As for the Serbs, wewere told: "Serbs tend to be intensely competitive outside Serbia", "Greeks usually make better friendsthan the Serbs living here".Another significant difference between the Serbian and the Bulgarian people in Greece is that theformer migrated to Greece because of the war and the subsequent bombardments, while the lattermigrated for economic reasons. This did not apply to my informant and his family, who came to Greeceprior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Many Bulgarians make a living by keeping shops selling Bulgarianproducts in the area of Patisia or Kipseli. The Serbs are more scattered throughout Athens, with athletesliving in Glyfada. As for dangerous areas, no specific places were mentioned, our informants walkedwithout restrictions wherever they fancied.Views on Golden Dawn vary, depending on who you are talking to, we were told. They take positionson the matter as do the Greeks. "We do not discuss politics..." one of our informants stated and then asthe interview went on she discussed pensions, the public sector, and the way the Greek citizenry used tovote. "No normal person would vote for them." No attacks were mentioned by the people interviewed.How a police officer, a member of EGAM, and Ioanna Kourtovik see Golden DawnGiorgos is a police officer of approximately thirty years old. When asking him for his opinion onimmigrants, he said immigrants are people who came hoping for a better life, but unable to find a job,they started stealing or selling drugs. However, he also says that when on duty and passing animmigrant sleeping on the street, the first thing he does is to check whether (s)he is alive and if (s)heneeds help. When we asked him about Golden Dawn, he stressed the following: “The members ofGolden Dawn help people who are hungry and they find people jobs. If you can call them Nazis, I donot know. Maybe yes, maybe no.” Furthermore, he mentioned that he arrests those people who areillegal, but also those who are calling the police names, or committing a crime. According to him, this Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 16
  17. 17. would also include members of Golden Dawn, whenever they would do something wrong.Interesting to note during this interview is that he did not really make clear if individual police officerscollaborate with members of Golden Dawn, as Kayu claims. The way Giorgos talks about the membersof Golden Dawn, however, makes us believe he is not really against their actions.What should not escape our attention however is that unfortunately the police are almost the sole statemechanism that deals with migrants on an official level. As a result of the above, migration becameidentical to criminality and led to the rise of feelings such as uncertainty and hostility among membersof the Greek society (Petrakou, 2001).According to Ioanna Kourtovik, the police do work together with Golden Dawn and its members.During the interview with her, she referred to the Kayu case. Kourtovik is the lawyer of Kayu and theTanzanian community, and when they went to the police office to attend a trial, she suddenly sawseveral members of Golden Dawn standing outside the building. As she stresses: “Just before the trial regarding the attack on the Tanzanian building started, I found Kayu in a cell at the police station and two other members of the community being detained. Suddenly, outside the police station, several members of Golden Dawn gathered. We believe the police officers had contacted them to inform them.”In addition, she continued: “Golden Dawn has an enormous influence and appeal to the people and in elections. In the last three years, this party has grown enormously and there have been many attacks on migrants, with the Greek police completely supporting the Golden Dawn members. In the area of Agios Panteleimonas, the police are taking the side of the members of Golden Dawn.”Kourtovik and Kayu, however, are not the only ones believing there is a link between the police andGolden Dawn. Dalakoglou also says that the neo-Nazis often seem to operate in collaboration with Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 17
  18. 18. state institutions. According to him, the local police station seems to systematically refuse to record orexamine racist attacks, and he also claims there are close links between the police and Golden Dawn,which became apparent in the elections of May and June 2012, when approximately half of the policeofficers on duty in the headquarters of Athens Police voted for Golden Dawn 5.Furthermore, Kourtovik said the following about Golden Dawn: ”Xrisi Avgi is not an extreme right party anymore. It is really a Nazi-party!” Recently, their profile has been changing. At first, after they had just entered parliament, the members of Golden Dawn were very aggressive. But now, they try to behave like the other parliamentarians, wearing suits and the like. In addition, during the last two months the attacks on immigrants have been decreasing. This has to do with the fact that people are starting to have more and more ideas about what Nazis are. At first, they did not know, because nobody talked about it. Nowadays, people are starting to talk about the fact that this party has a Nazi ideology and they are starting to mobilise against them.”Kourtovik also referred to the Greek civil society, which is organized to prevent the rise of racism and afar-right party. Her statement holds true, if we take into account the fact that on the 20th of January2013 an anti-racist protest was organized in the centre of Athens from Omonia up to Syntagma andended with a concert held for the previously-mentioned reason. Petrakou also emphasises that"irrational practices and behaviours with xenophobic or racist elements do not constitute the only trendin Greek society. There are trends that "undo" and resist the violation of human rights, racism andxenophobia" (Petrakou, 2001)Finally, during the seminar, Ahmed Moawia, a founding member of the European Grassroots AntiracistMovement (EGAM) gave a lecture about the situation of immigrants in Athens. This organisation waslaunched in November 2010 under the auspices of SOS Racisme (France), in order to structure andempower the European antiracist civil society. Nowadays, this organisation brings together5 Article City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action p. 538 Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 18
  19. 19. approximately forty antiracist civilian organisations from all over Europe and is actively involved inmaking the continent free from racism, anti-Semitism and racial discrimination 6 Like Kayu, Kourtovikand Dalakoglou, Moawia also confirms that Golden Dawn attacks many immigrants and in many casesthe police seem to be involved. This means that if immigrants who are attacked by members of GoldenDawn go to the police, the police simply replies: “Say that you have been beaten up during a conflictbetween you and another member of your community.”Moawia continues by saying: “There is increasing support for Golden Dawn. Nowadays it is the third party. This means we really need to stop them. We should prevent the representatives of Golden Dawn from continuing. We have to stop them and convince all the political parties in Parliament!” Images in the streetIn this part, we will explain the on-going debate between Golden Dawn on the one side and the Anti-fascist movement or ´antifa´ on the other, as expressed at times in the streets. Different aspects are seenas important. We have seen a dialogue being conducted in the streets using graffiti. Athens is a citywhich is going to face great challenges in the coming years. “Even comparisons with the developmentsin American metropolises were commonly used to delineate a dystopia of increased criminality,insecurity, alienation and pollution that were expected to bring about the social desertification of thecity centre ("We became Chicago!"). From this perspective, current discourses of anxiety and fear arehardly new, except that today they can be connected to massive international immigration that hasaltered the demographic composition of the city since the early 1990s, in successive waves of moralpanic” (Kandylis & Kavoulakos, 2011, p. 160).An important way of looking at the city is to see what kind of socio-economic classes are representedin certain areas of the city. What we discussed earlier is that, in recent years, there has been anexplosive growth of (irregular) migrants in the city of Athens. Kandylis & Kavoulakos (2011) didresearch on this topic, and they demonstrate that the growth of inequality does indeed exist. However,we would like to stress that the statistics are not always reliable due to the fact that many of the6 Site: EGAM Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 19
  20. 20. migrants are not registered. Data show that “immigrants’ position in the housing market differssignificantly. In addition to that, of the majority of Greeks regarding tenure: 90% of the immigrantpopulation lived in privately rented houses compared to 32,3% of the Greeks. The majority of the latterare home-owners, at a percentage quite similar to that for the Greek population in the Municipality ofAthens as a whole” (Kandylis & Kavoulakos, 2011, p. 164-165).Photo 1 “Fighting” through symbols Photo 2 “Discussion outside the school”Photo 1 is taken in Agion Pandon street, (near the train station) in Kallithea. It is a dialogue betweenthe different symbols in the city centre. Photo 2 is taken near a school. Which says that: “Every handthat is raised against migrants should be cut (a Greek). It is taken in Kallithea, Fragoudi on theexterior of a school complex.Photo 4 Discussion through symbols outside the bank Photo 5 “Hygienic bombs”Photo 4 is taken in Kallithea, Charokopou & Grypari Street, outside a bank. Different symbols suggestdifferent meanings. This photo shows that everywhere in the streets the discussion is alive. Photo 5 is Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 20
  21. 21. about the Hygienic bombs. It says that a hygienic bomb stands for Greek racism. That comment hasbeen erased and turned into ´a hygienic bomb is a Pakistan´. Interesting to note is that they put itoutside the Somalian café, instead of outside the Pakistan Community. The photo is taken inMetaxourghio. The ´hygiene´ is an important aspect, also mentioned during the interviews. Themigrants are living in small spaces with a lot of people inside the room. This leads to inhuman,unhygienic conditions.Photo 5 Democratic crisis Photo 5 is taken near the Tanzanian Community, in Patia. It is not only an economic crisis, it is a democratic crisis as well.3. ConclusionNow that our research project is over, we tend towards the following conclusions. First of all, inforeign media, the Golden Dawn party is portrayed as a neo-Nazi party or as the cleaners. AmongGreek citizens, they are seen either as racists, helpers and/or protectors, or as fascists and neo-Nazis. Inaddition, there are Greek citizens who tend to believe this party has no ideology, or others who vote forthem as a form of protest, because they do not agree with the ideas of the established big parties thatused to dominate the local political scene, namely: PASOK and Nea Democratia.As their official documents state, Golden Dawn sees itself as a nationalist movement. It turned out fromour interviews that it is a party that helps Greek citizens simply by cleaning up various places, freeingthem from foreigners. When looking at the role Greek police officers play, it seems that Greeks aredivided again- On the one hand, there are those like Kayu, Kourtovik, Dalakoglou and Moawia whotend to believe there is a link between the police and Golden Dawn. That they are working together.Others, like Giorgos, a Greek police officer, do not mention anything about their connections withGolden Dawn. Several times, however, it became clear that the police do indeed collaborate or simply Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 21
  22. 22. allow Golden Dawn and its members to do things. This is done indirectly by not preventing attacks aswas the case with the Tanzanian Community.Then, there also seems to be a distinction between (irregular) immigrants who are not afraid of GoldenDawn because they simply do not know Golden Dawn, or because they believe they are strong enoughto stand up against them. Finally, when we asked what the reason was for the growing popularity ofGolden Dawn lately, we discovered another distinction. Some people are inclined to believe thatGolden Dawn has become popular due to the combination of economic crisis and the rising number of(irregular) immigrants in Greece. Others seem to be of the opinion that it has not really much to do withthe immigrants, but more with the media´s blacklisting of the (irregular) migrants, making Greekcitizens believe that it is the (irregular) immigrants in particular who are stealing, killing andcommitting crimes in general. In other words, what we earlier referred to as: "the social construction ofcriminality".Thus, generally speaking, it can be concluded that there is a major division in Greece regarding howpeople see Golden Dawn. Some peoples views tend to coincide with those of Golden Dawn itself,namely as a nationalistic party. To these people, the far-right party is helping Greek society by cleaningthe streets of foreigners, since to them migrants are thought to be inclined towards adopting criminalbehaviour and practices. Others do not really have an opinion but just vote for Golden Dawn out ofprotest. And then there are still the opponents of Golden Dawn, those who are of the opinion that it is aneo-Nazi party, which needs to be stopped. They believe that Golden Dawn consists of people whosepractices we cannot and should not tolerate on democratic and human rights grounds.Last but not least, there is also a category of people in Greece who are becoming more and more awareof what effects the rise of the far-right might bring and are starting to be more actively involved in anti-racist or anti-fascist protests taking place in Athens.Yet, migration is publicly discussed in Greece as a matter of illegality. Other aspects of thephenomenon seem to be of no interest to Greek society, as Petrakou observes. To us, this is also aninteresting point and an issue to be addressed. Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 22
  23. 23. Questions and Proposals for Further ResearchThis paper cannot provide answers to questions such as "Why did Golden Dawn emerge the way itdid?" or "Why do people vote for them?" Yet, it is an attempt to provide some insight into suchquestions, and it aims to provide food for thought. We were not able for example to find out whethernewcomers really did have no clue on this ´against-foreigners´ attitude, which this party is consideredto have. Beside the Tanzanian community secretary, we did not have enough time to meet with otherpeople that had been attacked. It might provide interesting results, if further research could focus on thepeople attacked, or on the places that were "invaded" by Local Committees of Residents. Who are thesepeople? Is it a simple coincidence that such organizations started to become actively involved indistricts where migrants live after Golden Dawn had entered Parliament?On Golden Dawn itself, there is also a huge gap needing to be filled. We were not able to contact themdirectly. Whenever we managed to contact them, we were refused an interview, since they believed wewere working for the press. Our attempts to convince them of the opposite were fruitless. How then cana researcher reach conclusions about somebody (whether a party, organization or a person) when thatsomebody reacts this way? Trying to solve this problem of no data, we resorted to the officialdocuments the party uploads on its website. However, we do admit that this is not enough. Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 23
  24. 24. BibliographyKandylis & Kavoulakos (2011): Framing urban inequalities: racist mobilization against immigrants inAthens, The Greek Review of Social Research: special issue, Vol 136, No C, pp157-176Karakasidou A., (2000): Essential Differences: National Homogeneity and Cultural Representation inFour Recent Works on Greek Macedonia, Current Anthropology, Vol. 41, No. 3 (June 2000), pp. 415-425Caldwell Μ., (2002): The Taste of Nationalism: Food Politics in Postsocialist Moscow, Ethnos: Journalof Anthropology, 67:3, 295-319Levitt P. & Jaworsky N., (2007): Transnational Migration Studies: Past Developments and FutureTrends, in Annual Review of Sociology, 33:129–56Sassen, S. (2010): A savage sorting of winners and losers: contemporary versions of primitiveaccumulation, in Globalizations, 7: 1, 23-50Van Houtum, H. (2005): The Geopolitics of borders and boundaries, Geopolitics, 10: 672-679Greek BibliographyΓκέφου-Μαδιανού Δ. (επιμ.), (1998): "Εισαγωγή" στο "Ανθρωπολογική Θεωρία και Εθνογραφία:Σύγχρονες Τάσεις", Ελληνικά Γράμματα[Cited: Gefou-Madianou, 1998]Μαρβάκης Αθ., Παρσάνογλου Δ., Παύλου Μ. (επιμ.), (2001): "Εισαγωγή" στο Μετανάστες στηνΕλλάδα, Ελληνικά Γράμματα[Cited: Marvakis, Parsanoglou, Pavlou 2001]Πετράκου Ηλ, (2001): "Η Κατασκευή της Μετανάστευσης στην Ελληνική Κοινωνία" στο ΜαρβάκηςΑθ., Παρσάνογλου Δ., Παύλου Μ. (επιμ.), Μετανάστες στην Ελλάδα, Ελληνικά Γράμματα[Cited: Petrakou, 2001]Μως Μ., (1979): Το Δώρο: Μορφές και Λειτουργίες της Ανταλλαγής στις Αρχαϊκές Κοινωνίες,Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη[Cited: Mauss 1923]Electronic sources and Articles (Greek):Χρυσή Αυγή (Επίσημη Ιστοσελίδα) http://www.xryshaygh.comΠολιτικές Θέσεις Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 24
  25. 25. ΙδεολογίαΠικραμένος Κ., (2012) "Η Χρυσή Αυγή Έχει Ιδεολογική Βάση;", 12/10/12, Αντίβαρο 2012[Cited Pikramenos, 2012]News247, "Ρατσιστική Επιδρομή Στην Κοινότητα της Τανζανίας στην Κυψέλη", 28/09/12, News 247, 2012[Cited: News, 2012] "Η Επίθεση των Φασιστοειδών στην Κοινότητα των Τανζανών", 27/09/12,[Cited: 2012] Various Views of Golden Dawn in the Centre of Athens 7 february 2013 25