In recent years, Greece has experienced more severe right-wing violence per capita than any other country in Western Europe. It is long past time for a more comprehensive and effective response to far-right extremism.
Image may contain: People, Marching, Police, Event, Crowd. Only a few months ago, on July 2, a 49-year-old man was sentenced to 5 years in prison for two serious racist offenses, including an arson attack against the Afghan community center in downtown Athens. Additionally, he received a 15-months verdict for a bomb threat, public incitement to hatred, and illegal weapon possession. The man, a former translator and university employee, had been identified as the leader of a small fascist organization called Krypteia, named after an ancient Spartan state institution, which, most likely, functioned as a secret police. The group, which emerged in the shadow of the parliamentary turn of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn (GD), was responsible for several attacks targeting migrants and left-wing activists between 2017 and 2019.
This example of far-right extremism is far from unique. In fact, in recent years, Greece has witnessed violence carried out by members of the GD, increased far-right vigilantism on the islands, as well as organized right-wing militancy resulting from the naming dispute with today’s Republic of Northern Macedonia. Therefore, if anyone was in doubt, far-right violence clearly continues to be a major challenge in contemporary Greek society. A recent report from Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX), University of Oslo, shows that Greece has experienced more severe right-wing violence per capita between 2016 and 2019 than any other country in Western Europe. Although few have been killed in these right-wing attacks, there have been as many as 3.1 severe violent incidents per million inhabitants in Greece compared to 1.3 in Germany, the other far-right hotspot in Western Europe. In other countries with relatively high levels of violence, such as Italy and the UK, the ratio is 0.7 and 0.6, respectively. The report, which is based on the unique RTV-dataset developed by C-REX, aims to cover all severe forms of right-wing violent attacks and plots in Western Europe since 1990. This includes all cases in which the perpetrator(s) appear determined or willing to inflict deadly or physically disabling injury on the victim(s). Because there will be many right-wing attacks that are less severe, also in Greece, the dataset only covers the ‘tip of the iceberg’. However, it does so in a systematic way, allowing us to compare levels of violence over time and across countries. The report shows that while many countries have very few cases of severe right-wing violent attacks and plots between 2016 and 2019, there were no less than 33 such events in Greece. Most of these events took place in Athens, including neighboring places like Villa and Piraeus (17 in total). However, several severe violent events in 2018 and 2019 also occurred in major cities like Thessaloniki, on the isle of Lesbos and in region of Macedonia.
The nature of far-right violence in Greece While Greece has a long history of political violence in general, the country has experienced the surge of right-wing violence since 2011 in particular – marked by the racist riots in the center of Athens, which coincided with the rise of Golden Dawn. In a comparative perspective, the nature of this violence from the far right in Greece during the last decade seems rather unique: the most common perpetrator type resembles other Southern European countries, while typical target groups are more similar to Northern Europe. In Greece, far-right violence is typically more organized and so-called ‘lone actors’ hardly exists. In fact, this type of violence is not only far more organized than in most other countries, it also seems largely premeditated rather than spontaneous (as in for example Spain). In other words, violence is part of deliberate political strategy. The existence of a successful neo-Nazi party GD is the key factor. Although this party was well represented in parliament between 2012 and 2019, it never stopped acting as a movement characterized by violence and other forms of confrontational activism. Only in 2019, there were four severe attacks committed by organized groups and their affiliates, of which three involved GD-members.

via c-rex: Greece: More far-right violence than any other country in Western Europe