The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Falling Prey to Extremists

The following is a lead editor article from the Athens News (as is the title).

No one can deny that the far right is on the rise in Greece and in Europe. The impressive tally of Marie Le Pen’s National Front in the first round of French elections speaks for itself. The financial recession and the influx of large numbers of immigrants in the European Union over the past years are undoubtedly empowering the far right.

And the fact that polls suggest the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party – whose extremist guiding principles have nothing to do with Le Pen – will garner somewhere between four and five percent of the vote in the Greek national elections on May 6 is indeed a cause for concern.

It will be a first for Greece. A party founded on racist principles and with a thinly veiled admiration for Adolf Hitler appears poised to make it to parliament. And the fact that it is expected to get around a dozen MPs in a parliament of 300 is not something to take lightly. Its rise is impressive, given it received 1.5 percent of the vote in a May 2011 opinion poll.

But it would be utterly misleading to assume that this relatively small percentage of the electorate consists of neo-Nazi sympathisers.

Instead, most of its supporters are simply frustrated by the monumental inability of successive governments to pursue an effective strategy to combat illegal immigration. Fringe parties are simply filling the gap left by the political mainstream.

The government’s failure to tackle the problem is more than evident on the streets of Athens, where entire innercity neighbourhoods have practically become ghettos of undocumented migrants. Local residents justifiably resent the idea of being forced to live in an apparently lawless environment while authorities stand idly by.

With elections approaching, the government has finally announced half-baked plans to summarily sweep undocumented migrants off the streets and house them in detention centres.

In other words, the government’s solution to the problem is the creation of something akin to modernday concentration camps. This will not address the root cause of the problem. And it has failed to convince anyone that these efforts are anything more than another pre-election publicity stunt, to the detriment of local residents and illegal immigrants alike.

The onus is on the next government and the European Union to make a serious attempt to confront the issue.

If not, segments of society could move further away from the mainstream and further into the arms of preying extremists.

3 Comments

  1. Amaliada
    May 3, 2012    

    If you are able to catch Al Jazeera’s The Stream, this is going to be part of the conversation this evening (10:30 pm Athens time).

  2. A Greek
    May 3, 2012    

    Golden Dawn are certainly far right extremists… but where is the mention of the 20-30% that are far leftist extremists seemingly out to eradicate our veryidentity through open border policiess and playing stupid to FYROM ultra nationalists irredentism? Is ethnic cleansing Greeks “human rights” now?

  3. The Verve
    May 21, 2012    

    If greece is to avoid a civil war in the very near future something needs to be done about illegal immigration asap. The country is sitting on a time bomb & the clock is ticking. The more the government drags it’s feet on this issue, the more impetus it gives a party like golden dawn to grow it’s support base, clearly no reasonable person would want that.

    I don’t agree with these camps either….this is just another disaster made by Pasok. A typical costly pre-election stunt by political has-beens.

    Many of these newly arrived illegal immigrants will have to be repatriated back to their countries if other european countries cannot take them. Better border controls will need to be implemented & heavy fines with possible imprisonment for any migrants entering the country illegally from now on. The greek government should also embark on an educational campaign in all those countries that these migrants are coming from, inform them of the dangers they face making their way to greece & all the difficulties they will face when they do arrive. In may be a form of negative self-publicity but it’s a lot better to save these poor, broken people from possible death & misery they will face. It’s better for them to consider the many opportuntities available to them in developing countries which have growth rates which far outstrip those of the EU. Leading them in the right direction will be the best thing that one can do in these difficult times.

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