Fascists vs Muslim Immigrants in Athens?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 1, 2010 — 50 Comments

The New York Times has report on a rising tide of violence against Muslim immigrants in Athens, Greece.

Immigrants have been beaten and stabbed near central squares, and several makeshift mosques have been burned and vandalized. In the most grievous attack, at the end of October, the assailants locked the door of a basement prayer site and hurled firebombs through the windows, seriously wounding four worshipers. “The attacks are constant — I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Naim Elghandour, who moved to Athens from Egypt in the 1970s and now heads the Muslim Association of Greece. “I used to be treated like an equal. Now I’m getting death threats.”

The Greek media are linking the rise in violence to Chrysi Avgi (“Golden Dawn”), a neo-fascist Greek organization that, like several European racist groups, embraces a National Socialism-tinged brand of Pagan occultism. While Chrysi Avgi’s ideology nows tolerates Greek Orthodox Christianity (most likely out of political necessity), their continued embrace of Paganism has alienated some Hellenic Nationalists. Nor is this simply a small band of  thugs with dreams of a Fourth Reich, this “Golden Dawn” have gained political clout and popular support on a wave of discontent over Greece’s fiscal meltdown, getting their founder, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, elected councilman in the Athens Municipal Council on November 7th.

The party appears to have fed off public anger against illegal immigrants in central Athens, a sentiment that has been rising partly because of the troubled economy. “Chrysi Avgi is still marginal, but it is not a welcome development,” says [University of Athens political science professor Kostas] Ifantis. “When things in a society are not going well, there is room for demagogues.”

Meanwhile, politicians who criticize this troubling trend, like current Republic of Cyprus president Dimitris Christofias, are defensively criticized and ridiculed when they dare to speak out.

Christofias became the first Cypriot president to address the Hellenic Parliament to mark 50 years of the Cyprus Republic. During his speech, he made reference to the coup by the Greek junta, and subsequent Turkish invasion, saying that some had not learned from the past. He referred specifically to the appearance in Cyprus of “destructive” mentalities of extreme organisations like Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) and others.

“Every democrat feels indignation and outrage when they see on the internet the unrepentant grandfather teaching his three-year-old grandson the slogan ‘Long live the junta’ in front of the framed shield of the fascistic junta hanging on the wall…the child holding the pistol and being taught to kill Turks and communists,” Christofias said. He was referring to a video posted on Facebook by a civil servant in a senior position made public last week. An opinion piece in Phileleftheros yesterday accused the president of taking an isolated incident of “blatant perversion” and using it in the most historic speech ever given by a Cypriot president.

What’s clear is that violence and tensions continue to rise, and extreme right-wingers are growing ever-more bold.

“A large mosque with minarets in the city center will be a provocation,” said Dimitrios Pipikios, the head of a residents’ group in Aghios Panteleimonas, where Chrysi Avgi drew 20 percent of the vote in recent elections. Mr. Pipikios said the only way to ease tensions was to deport immigrants. “There is no room for us all,” he said, adding that extreme rightists were patrolling the area “because the police are not doing their job.”

The tactics, beliefs, and rhetoric of Chrysi Avgi are a stain on Athens, and on the reputation of Pagans living in Greece that are fighting for equal treatment in the Orthodox-controlled country. No matter what the true depth of their connection to modern Pagan worship is, neo-fascist appropriation of pre-Christian symbolism, thinkers, and beliefs harms us all. Giving ammunition to those who would brand fascism as an outgrowth of “pagan” belief systems. There can be no alliance or sympathy for those who twist and appropriate our faiths in this manner, who think that violent thuggery is the proper response to immigration or poverty. One can only hope that the election of Michaloliakos was an aberrant political blip that will soon correct itself.

If any of my Greek readers can give me further insights on Chrysi Avgi, the election of Michaloliakos, and the current anti-Muslim/anti-immigrant tensions, please leave your thoughts in the comments. Also, as a warning, comments that sympathize, endorse, or apologize for racist thug fascists risk immediate deletion. There are plenty of places to engage in thinly-veiled pro-fascist sophistry, but this isn’t one of them.

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Who, precisely, determines what is formally "obnoxious", anyway?

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      On my site? I do. On your site, you do.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Well gosh, mr. antsy pants, I went and "bothered", and commented below. No need to be wude.

  • Riverbend

    Jason, any chance you could install a "thumbs down" button for us to click on here…??

    • Crystal7431

      Originally there was one but it was taken away. We abused our thumbs down privilege. ; ) The atmosphere was ugly at the time.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Oh, Jason, you just blew your reputation as a jack-booted, my-way-or-the-highway PC liberal. Robin will have to pick on someone else.

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

      Oh, no he won't. *grin* You underestimate Robin's capacity for perseverance.

    • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

      Well, they do say you should be the change you want to see in the world.

      • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

        Indeed they do. And if that's the case, I'm making the world a changed place every day!

    • MertvayaRuka

      It is entirely your fault that I just laughed sharply and loudly enough to startle my dog.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        ;-)

  • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org/ DanMiller

    Well, not all that sophisticated, but the intention is clear for all to read.

  • Thomas

    I think this case illustrates the theological disadvantage of modern paganism compared to more dogmatic religious traditions and secular ethics that don’t give in to the post-modern party in this day and age. On what ground do you say this group is not a valid tradition? Why is your judgment of them any better than their judgement of other religions? If it’s only on the basis that this is your website – isn’t it might makes right? I’m not a fascist of any kind, and I do hold sympathy to a certain group of pagan religions – but you can’t have it all: theological pluralism that embraces all religious traditions as valid and has no right-wrong teaching which is accepted by all will quickly find these issues surface. You have to choose: either you can criticize a tradition and say it’s wrong (for whatever reason) or you can’t and then you have a blurry line of right and wrong. On a side note, Islam is not a much more liberal religion than the fascist ideology – but of course, I’m not really supposed to say that because it’s not tolerant or politically-correct. Not as politically-correct as being anti-fascist that is.

  • Don

    Orthodox?

    • caraschulz

      My apologies – Greek (or Eastern) Orthodox, specifically. Catholic denotes obedience to Rome.

  • EricSchwenke

    I think it's worth pointing out that pagan Greek culture was notoriously xenophobic.

    • blah

      culture yes, but religion wasn't. and it was very different than modern understanding of nationalism.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    Jawohl. "[A] conflict was established" — because you decided to have one.

  • Baruch Dreamstalker

    The book is "Learning to be White."

  • http://www.facebook.com/amberapple Peg Aloi

    That was very enlightening, Sasha, thank you very much for sharing.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    A superb quote!

  • Evritos

    CHRYSI AVGI needs to be understood in the political context of modern Greece. It is a nationalist organization that has adopted neo-fascist/neo-nazi political ideology. What my Greek friends tell me, is that it has some elements of Hellenic paganism, but has become increasingly promotive of Orthodox Christianity.

    Hellas (Greece) has been historically speaking, a target of imperialism for a large part of its history. This has led to an increased sense of nationalism among its people. Unfortunately, militant groups like AVGI have taken advantage of this nationalism as well as the economic frustration that exists in Greece today.

    My opinion is that AVGI betrays Hellas in the sense that it adopts the same ideologies that destroyed Hellas.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      A very significant problem is that having "some elements of Hellenic paganism" means precisely nothing. The Boy Scouts of America and Elvira's late-night monster-movie TV show have "some elements of Paganism". Indeed, both the Catholic and Orthodox churches are teeming with Pagan "elements".

  • Tautalos

    No, Greek culture was NOT a branch of any African or Near Eastern culture, and «the Greeks» did not claimed to be of Egyptian origin. And I doubt that Burkert ever said something like that. Egyptian influences, yes – (or Hellenic interpretations of Egyptian teachings?…), Egyptian origin, certainly not.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Ancient <<Greek>> traditions had Danaus coming from Egypt and Kadmos from Phoenicia. This is well known.

      Here is what Burkert says in his own words:

      "Emanating from the Near East, in connection with military expansion and growing economic activities, a cultural continuum including literacy was created by the eighth century extending over the entire Mediterranean; it involved groups of Greeks who entered into extensive exchange with the high cultures of the Semitic East."
      The Orientalizing Revolution, p. 128

      Obviously the Hellenes had their own very distinct civilization, and this eventually came to be the dominant culture throughout much of what we now call "the Middle East" inclusive of all of modern day Turkey and also Egypt. But this culture was part of a continuum not only across space (and most of that space was in Africa and Asia) but also across time, going back thousands of years prior to the classical or even archaic periods.

      The only point being that there is nothing very "xenophobic" about any of this. Rather it is all very cosmopolitan, another fine, and ancient, Hellenic word.

      • http://www.phoenixrising.org.gr/en/academy/teachers/sasha-chaitow/ Sasha Chaitow

        If I may; Burkert or no Burkert, there is no direct continuum between Near Eastern and Hellenic culture. There is LATER influence and cross-fertilization, yes. However, evidence of indigenous Hellenic (Minoan) culture places it several thousand years earlier (4th millenium BCE) ; excavations in Santorini (Thera) and Crete provide clear evidence of this. Mycenean civilisation too, predates what Burkert is talking about. Both these civilisations were a combination of pre-Hellenic indigenous cultures (the Pelasgians http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pelasgians) evidenced by ancient writers, and later Doric races http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorians which essentially took over what was known as Greece. In neither case is there any relation with Asian and African culture. Burkert doesn't mention this because the excavations took place in the 1960s (look up the Marinatos excavations inThera/Santorini http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyridon_Marinatos and http://www.travel-to-santorini.com/place.php?plac…. Please look up more recent sources for more on this point, Burkert is anything but accurate, and is most certainly outdated.

        Re xenophobia – this is a deeply entrenched misunderstanding. The ancient Greeks used to say that "all non-Hellenes are barbarians" BUT the word "barbarian" was not used in the modern sense. It originates in the fact that the ancient Greeks perceived foreign (particularly Eastern/African) languages as sounding like a phonetic series of syllables "bar-bar-bar". Eventually they called foreigners barbarians simply as a phonetic descriptor of their languages. Because of the modern use of the word this has been constantly misinterpreted as xenophobia -yet it was not. We also need to remember that some 3000 years ago, Hellenic civilisation spanned all the way from deep in Anatolia (what is now Turkey) to the Iberian peninsula by way of the many Ionic settlements. There was constant trade and exchange across the Mediterranean; so the definition of "foreigners" was again, somewhat different to what it is now. Danaus and Kadmos coming from the East does not necessarily mean they were perceived as foreign or non-Hellenic… look into Herodotus' genealogies for a clearer understanding of how this was perceived. Hellenic culture certainly received elements of the Egyptian mysteries, but again this is something very different to an overarching continuum.

        And the nature of religion was not what it is today either. Religion did not mean dogma, it meant a particular worldview. There was no Muslim religion 3000 years ago,may I remind you that Islam essentially began in the 7th century C.E.

  • Tautalos

    «Also, as a warning, comments that sympathize, endorse, or apologize for racist thug fascists risk immediate deletion. There are plenty of places to engage in thinly-veiled pro-fascist sophistry, but this isn’t one of them.»

    How… democratic… ;) That's «rich», coming from someone who pretends to lecture on Freedom and Democracy.

  • Tautalos

    Yes, because «Fascism» is not politics, because I say so!!, Fascism is a «crime», Clever idea, yes sir… with this classification one can outlaw whichever ideology one wants to forbid and that's cool, and after that one can continue to claim to be «democratic». Poor devils, the Fascists, they did not invent such an nice&easy way to deal with other ideologies, and so they are deemed «totalitarian», which they were, while the anti-fascists are considered as «freedom fighters», which THEY ARE NOT. Actually they are even more deeply totalitarian than any fascist, because they even don't realize how much totalitarian they are, it's like in their very blood.

    • Don

      We are all totalitarians now.

  • Tautalos

    «Neither scientific nor mystical racism has anything whatsoever to do with Paganism. In fact, both of them are thoroughly modern ideologies.»

    The (alleged) fact that Paganism haves no direct relation to racism does NOT mean that Paganism is not compatible with racism.
    Besides, racism is not that new, as some people want to make believe. It is convenient to remember that, according to Suetonius in «The Twelve Caesars», the first emperor of Rome, Octavius Caesar Augustus, a staunch Pagan, who renewed the traditional Roman Religio, said that he did not want the Roman blood to be mixed with foreigner or slave blood:

    «Considering it also of great importance to keep the people pure and unsullied by any taint of foreign or servile blood, he was most chary of conferring Roman citizenship and set a limit to manumission.»
    http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Probably the only ancient civilization that was more thoroughly and extravagantly cosmopolitan than that of the Hellenes was that of the Romans.

  • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

    Pictures of me are all over the internet. I don't have to share personal details of my life online, when I write controversial materials and publish them, and live in an area where that could endanger me and my family to be considered honest. And a nom-de-plume (or a nom-du-diable, as it were) is not a "made up name". It's a traditional tool for authors to use, and they always have. Try again.

    • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

      Folks,

      Whilst I disagree mightily with Robins opinions regarding Christianity and Monotheism, and sometimes despair of the vigorous love he has for the role of Agent Provocateur – which I think dilutes and distracts from the Wisdom and talent of his other writings and work- …

      And while I have, in the heat of the moment, expressed frustration with his relative anonymity in relation to his more contentious (or perhaps contended) opinions…

      HE IS UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO OUT HIMSELF

      Neither to suit the convenience of those he rouses with his slings and arrows of outrageousness, nor his detractors.

      His true face and mundane identity are his to hold or reveal, across his many interwoven sites, as he chooses and thinks best for his welfare and that of his family.

      As are all of ours.

      Thank you for your time,
      Pax / Geoffrey

      • Cheryl Taylor

        No, he's not, but if this person is going to dish it out he needs to be ready to take it, and be called out when he resorts to attacking the same things he does himself. or do you have Privileged Characters on here?

        • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

          Dear Cheryl,

          No. No special priveleges on here, unless you count Jason and the hardworking and anonymous moderators… of which I don't think Robin is one. I think you will find there are plenty of people on this list calling him out on some of the things he says. On occasions I myself have been one of them.

          But his closet is his own to come out of, or to stay within as he lobs slings and arrows of venom and outrage upon Pagan forums, as he chooses.

          Forcibly outing someone else is, at its heart, at least in my opinion, a violation of their free choice.

          Peace,
          Pax

  • Evritos

    Apuleius, you are absolutely right. This means nothing and should be treated as such.

  • tomb23

    ….you are aware the Greeks had their own Dark Ages right? Following the Mycenaean Collapse?
    Afterwhich they spread throughout the Med. Sea and into the Black Sea? Following that came Alexander and the greatest extent of Hellenistic Civilization asit became the basis for several of the great powers at the time? From Spain to India? Greatest advent of Hellenistic Cuture, Literature, Sciences, and spread of the gods with Herakles even appearing alongside the Buddha (oh good gods don't get me started on on Mahayana Buddhism!!!!!!)? Scorates? Plato? Epicurus? Soticism? Pythagoras? Pericles? 300? What do these things mean to you?
    Then being absobed by Rome (or vice versa).

    I'd call that a roll.

    2:*Cough* Magna Graecia, Etruscans, Apollon and Asclepius, Hercules, etc etc *Coughcough*

    Whose failed history now?

  • tomb23

    Why do they need to be?

    • tomb23

      Right. It was called "The White Man's Burden" Kipling was a big supporter. He wrote a passioned poem about it, and he the Jungle Book.

    • http://www.robinartisson.com Robin Artisson

      Because I believe there's something spiritual about European ancestry, just as I believe there's something spiritual about African, Asian, or Native American ancestry, or anyone's ancestry, and being out of touch with your real spiritual origins is a way of wasting your life. It's also an inspiration to steal the spiritual legacies of others, which has happened to an enormous extent.

      • tomb23

        Man that comment seems so baseless (besides the various ways one could attack the definition of "European" "African" "Latino" "White" "Black" or "Caucasian" identity and the MASS amount of controversy that goes with it).

        So if I was interested in Buddhism as I have been many times if I joined it would be like I was stealing from the Indians, Chinese, Cambodians, etc? I have felt the call for inner peace and veneration of the Buddha.

        I am not Greek nor am I Egyptian yet I feel the prescence of these gods and pay worship, heed and respect to them. Neither do I think any of my anscestors in th long line of things were them. I look more like the Hispanic side of my family like my father, but my brothers remind me more of Celtic side of my Ma's anscestry. I feel neither compelled to look into the Celtic or Mesoamerican gods other then passive respect and honor of their status' as gods. I'm quite happy too. HS

  • http://chrysalis1witchesjourney.wordpress.com/ Pax

    Rombald,

    As a Gay man, and as a Pagan, there are folks in this world who would cheerfully see ME as someone whom it would not be bigotry to be violent or even murderous towards.

    60 or more years ago, there were many places in the U.S. where a black man could have violence and even murder committed upon him for looking at a white woman the wrong way. Now, perhaps you will say "Well, that second example is outright racism…" but what if it were say 45-50 years ago, during the heights of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements…. is it ok if it was a radicalized black person, one who was advocating the wrong sort of politics…. perhaps like some of those Nation of Islam folks… or that other fellow who incited all those people to causing trouble… Dr. Martin Luther King?

    Are those examples of situations that should be assessed in a case by case basis?

    Just how do you justify the use of violence in the name of hate, and how do you justify murder based on another persons religion or ethnicity?

    Really damn curios here,
    Pax / Geoffrey

  • tomb23

    What about Multiracial persons, such as I? My anscestry is very American.

  • MertvayaRuka

    Well, that does work a lot better than taking an aggressive stance that causes them to "circle the wagons", so to speak. The latest would-be terrorist in Portland, Oregon only came to the attention of the FBI because his own father talked to them about his growing fanaticism. If the father hadn't felt comfortable enough in doing that, there is a chance his son could have caused some damage on his own. Of course then I doubt anyone would have attributed those deaths and injuries to "political correctness".

  • J.M.

    Well, there certainly are neo-fascists who are pagan, and you don't have to go to the Thule society to find Nazi paganism. This group apparently isn't, but I think it's simplistic to go the other way and suggest that there's no compatibility between the two. In the past, groups have always played the game of thinking that people on the other side couldn't possibly be the 'real' representatives of what they personally believe in. Life is more complex than that.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      There are Republicans who are Pagan and there are Democrats who are Pagan. There are Pagans who support the Tea Party and there are Pagans who support MoveOn.Org.

      There are Pagans who are Jewish, Pagans who are Quakers, Pagans who are Atheists, Pagans who are Libertarians, Pagans who are Trotskyists, etc.

      But the Right, and the far-right in particular, is deeply committed to and entangled with the most regressive elements of both Catholicism and Protestantism. This is a well established historical fact. The chief ideologues of fascism and of Nazism in particular explicitly condemned all forms of Paganism and enthusiastically embraced Christianity. This is also a well established historical fact.

  • j.m.

    I should have added: Nazi paganism, just look at the later chapters of Alfred Rosenberg's "Myth of the 20th Century", one of the things that he was hung for, which contrasts in chapter after chapter the idea of "Love" with "Honor", saying that ancient Germans believed in "Honor" as their primary value and that "Love" is mostly just a Mediterranean import.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Rosenberg explicitly condemns Wotanism, and rejects any connection with any form of Paganism. He praises Jesus, Luther and Meister Eckhart extensively throughout "Myth of the 20th Century".

      Roseberg, as everyone knows, explicitly modeled Myth of the 20th Century on Chamberlain's "Foundations of the 19th Century." Chamberlain was a fervent Christian and a close friend of the influential Protestant theologian Harnack.

      Hitler, Rosenberg and Chamberlain were all Christians, and these are the three principle ideologues of Nazism and of so-called "mystical racism" in particular. Hitler attended Chamberlains funeral, and Rosenberg wrote a loving obituary of him for the Nazi press in which he (Rosenberg) referred to "Foundations of the 19th Century" as "the gospel of the Nazi movement."

  • Socrates

    Encouraging. Muslims should immigrate to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, UAE and other Muslim countries who share their atavistic ideology regarding women, gays, atheists and others. They should stay out of Greece and Europe. They have made themselves – by their conduct – very unwelcome.

  • Socrates

    Encouraging. Muslims should immigrate to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Bahrain, UAE and other Muslim countries who share their atavistic ideology regarding women, gays, atheists and others. They should stay out of Greece and Europe. They have made themselves – by their conduct – very unwelcome.