A senior lawmaker of the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn made headlines again by suggesting during a session of a committee of the House of Representatives that he is a Holocaust denier. Ilias Kasidiaris, who is Golden Dawn’s spokesman, said that in this he agreed with his party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos.
During a debate about the parliamentary committee which is probing the political handling of the so-called Lagarde List of possible tax cheats, Kasidiaris said that Sabby Mionis, a Greek-born businessman who lives in Tel Aviv, had refused to appear before the panel protesting over the fact that it includes Holocaust deniers. “Members of the committee are, of course, Holocaust deniers,” Kasidiaris said. He added that “of course Holocaust deniers are present. We do not want to go to the murderous state of Zionists. When this man sets foot in our country he will be brought to justice”.
That set off angry retorts from other parliament members, particularly Vasilis Economou of the Democratic Left party which, along with the PASOK Socialists, is a partner in the coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the leader of the center-right New Democracy party.
The government is at loggerheads over how to proceed with an anti-racism bill that makes Holocaust denial a crime and includes other measures increasing penalties for assaults against immigrants. Samaras has withdrawn his support after initially backing the measure, leaving the other two governing parties to promote it on their own. Golden Dawn, which currently polls about 13 percent of the vote, this week submitted its own draft bill to fight “racism against Greeks.”
The Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS) reacted angrily to Kasidiaris’ remarks. “Holocaust denial constitutes a promotion for the repeat of the most hideous crime against humanity. Consequently, Holocaust deniers cannot be members of the Parliament in a democratic country in Europe,” it said in a statement.
In June of last year, Kasidiaris slapped Greek Communist MP Liana Kanelli on live television and afterwards fled the studio and went into hiding. Greek law requires an arrest within 48 hours for an assault.