Implement hate crime laws now and stop neo-Nazis from undermining democracy in Greece, WJC urges Athens - World Jewish Congress

Implement hate crime laws now and stop neo-Nazis from undermining democracy in Greece, WJC urges Athens

Implement hate crime laws now and stop neo-Nazis from undermining democracy in Greece, WJC urges Athens

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NEW YORK – “It is high time Greek politicians honor their pledge and adopt effective legislation that will put an end to completely unacceptable harassment of immigrants, ethnic minorities, immigrants and political opponents by the extremist Golden Dawn party,” World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder said on Monday. Lauder’s comments come after a Golden Dawn sympathizer was arrested in connection with the murder of the rap musician and anti-racism campaigner Pavlos Fissas, 45, last week.

Lauder welcomed statements made by some Greek government ministers who said that a ban of Golden Dawn – which is the fourth-largest party in Greece’s parliament – should be taken into consideration and state-funding for racist and extremist parties canceled: “Words of condemnation, although important, won’t suffice. Greece’s leaders need to take action against those who create a climate of fear and who pose a threat to many of their fellow citizens."

Ronald Lauder speaking at a commemoration in Thessaloniki, Greece in March 2013Greece’s democratic forces “have a moral obligation to unite against Golden Dawn leaders”, especially those who “publicly incite to crimes, preach hate against minorities, deny and belittle the Holocaust, or viciously assault people based on the color of their skin, their ethnic background, or their political views,” declared Lauder. He lamented that, despite assurances given to him and others by Prime Minister Samaras and members of his government, no concrete bill has been adopted by the Greek governing coalition due to internal disagreements.

"There can be no legitimate place in the Greek parliament for parties whose public statements and actions are racist or anti-Semitic and who operate in many ways like the Nazis did seventy years ago. If legislation is insufficient to deal with such organizations and individuals, it ought to be strengthened, because the people of Greece deserve to be protected from the forces that seek to destroy liberal democracy and reject even basic civil rights,” said the WJC president.

In March 2013, the WJC held a meeting of its Executive Committee in Thessaloniki. In a resolution, leaders urged the Greek authorities “to take serious and concerted actions against Holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia; implement all relevant European laws in that domain; and unite all democratic forces against the enemies of democracy, so as not to allow society to drift into the darkness of racial hatred and anti-Semitism.”

During the Holocaust, an estimated 70,000 Greek Jews were deported and murdered in Nazi German death camps. Around 5,000 Jews live in Greece today.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.