Reporters Without Borders wishes to express its disgust at the assault on several journalists by the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris in the course of a live televised debate today during which he also attacked two left-wing deputies.
“The behaviour of Ilias Kasidiaris is both unacceptable and indicative of the aggressive attitude of the Gold Dawn party towards its political opponents and the media,” the international press freedom organization said.
“This incident is in line with the strident rhetoric of the neo-Nazi group and merely confirms the fears aroused by previous incidents of a similar kind. It would be unconscionable for Mr. Kasidiaris, who won a seat in parliament in the 6 May legislative elections, to be protected by any form of parliamentary immunity.”
During a morning political talk show on the commercial television station Antenna (ANT1), Kasidiaris attacked two other guests on the programme, Rena Douro of the left-wing Syriza party and communist Liana Kanelli. After hurling insults at Douro, who had referred to legal proceedings pending against Kasidiaris, he threw a glass of water in her face then slapped and punched Kanelli. The programme was halted.
Members of the editorial team told Reporters Without Borders that the neo-Nazi politician then struck the programme’s presenter Giorgos Papadakis, a cameraman and two journalists who tried to prevent him from fleeing the studio. As he left Kasidiaris damaged a door and threatened the journalists who were taking photographs of him, saying: “You’ll see what happens if you publish them!”
Against the backdrop of the severe economic crisis in Greece, it is increasingly difficult for journalists to carry out their job of keeping the pubic informed. Growing militancy by far-left and far-right groups among others is a highly sensitive subject. Immigrants are regularly the targets of attacks by Golden Dawn supporters.
Gil Shefler, a journalist with the Jerusalem Post told Reporters Without Borders he was beaten up two days ago in central Athens near the National Archaeological Museum, an area regularly patrolled by police because of its proximity to the ministry of culture and the city’s anarchist district.
“I was walking in the street when I witnessed an attack on a group of people by about 15 masked men,” he told Reporters Without Borders by telephone.
“Most those being attacked appeared to be immigrants, but I can’t confirm that was the case with all of them. So it was impossible for me to say with any certainty whether it was an attack by neo-Nazis, or by a group from the opposite side.
“However, as soon as I took out my camera in a professional reaction, five assailants chased after me. They caught up with me and beat me with their sticks. This happened in broad daylight. The police took 20 minutes to arrive (…) I was hospitalized with injuries to my head and chest, but I am feeling better now. I think I was very lucky. It could have been a lot worse.”
(Picture: AFP Photo / HO / Antena)