Standing up to Golden Dawn in Greece

The economic crisis in Greece has led to a rise in support for the far-right Golden Dawn and an increase in racist attacks. I travelled to the country to talk to one man who is fighting back. Michael Chege and …

The economic crisis in Greece has led to a rise in support for the far-right Golden Dawn and an increase in racist attacks. I travelled to the country to talk to one man who is fighting back.

Michael Chege and his friends patrol their neighbourhood in Athens, Greece, most nights. After many encounters with the neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, they set up their own brigade, nicknamed the Black Panthers.They want to protect themselves from the fascists who are targeting people who are not ethnic Greeks.

Since the economic crisis tore Greece apart, people have been trying to find someone to blame. Some blame immigrants for the high unemployment and crime. Racist attacks against immigrants have been rising steadily. In the last year alone, more than 150 racist attacks were recorded by police, but most go unreported.

Greece is a gateway to Europe and many immigrants travel there as an entry point in the hope of reaching the richer nations on the continent.

Newly arrived immigrants, who do not speak the language or have proper documentation, live in fear. But Michael and his friends are taking on the extremists.

‘We will exterminate them’
“I’m not afraid of this neo-Nazi, stupid, idiotic group,” he told me. “In WW2, they were crushed. In WW3, we will exterminate them out of the face of the earth.

“I am a member of the Black Panthers and everybody knows that. So I am giving them (Golden Dawn) a straight warning – don’t mess with black people, anyhow. And I mean it.”

Members of the Black Panthers rescue each other if one is attacked. Using mobile phones with instant messaging and social media, their response is swift. “It has turned our lives better, at least in our neighbourhood,” Michael told me.

Michael arrived in Greece from Kenya at eight months. Although he has lived there for 28 years, he is treated as a new immigrant. Police stop him on a regular basis to check his identification papers. So he has to carry a bag full of documents to prove that he is legal in the country.

Michael Chege and his friends patrol their neighbourhood in Athens, Greece, most nights. After many encounters with the neo-Nazi group, Golden Dawn, they set up their own brigade, nicknamed the Black Panthers.They want to protect themselves from the fascists who are targeting people who are not ethnic Greeks.

Since the economic crisis tore Greece apart, people have been trying to find someone to blame. Some blame immigrants for the high unemployment and crime. Racist attacks against immigrants have been rising steadily. In the last year alone, more than 150 racist attacks were recorded by police, but most go unreported.

Greece is a gateway to Europe and many immigrants travel there as an entry point in the hope of reaching the richer nations on the continent.

Newly arrived immigrants, who do not speak the language or have proper documentation, live in fear. But Michael and his friends are taking on the extremists.

‘We will exterminate them’
“I’m not afraid of this neo-Nazi, stupid, idiotic group,” he told me. “In WW2, they were crushed. In WW3, we will exterminate them out of the face of the earth.

“I am a member of the Black Panthers and everybody knows that. So I am giving them (Golden Dawn) a straight warning – don’t mess with black people, anyhow. And I mean it.”

Members of the Black Panthers rescue each other if one is attacked. Using mobile phones with instant messaging and social media, their response is swift. “It has turned our lives better, at least in our neighbourhood,” Michael told me.

Michael arrived in Greece from Kenya at eight months. Although he has lived there for 28 years, he is treated as a new immigrant. Police stop him on a regular basis to check his identification papers. So he has to carry a bag full of documents to prove that he is legal in the country.