Greek Government split by anti-racism law

Greek anti-racism law splits government

Tue, 28 May 2013 16:17:41 GMT

A Greek proposal to toughen an anti-racism law aimed at restricting the country’s neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has caused a division in the ruling coalition.

The planned bill would raise the current maximum jail term from two to three years and impose a fine up to 20,000 euros for hate speech and the denial or praise of war crimes and genocide.

The proposal was created in an attempt to curb the Golden Dawn Party, which is known for its xenophobic beliefs.

Initially, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party backed the bill but the party backtracked after it feared losing support from members of the Orthodox Church and the army, critics said.

Now, the New Democracy says the proposed bill restricts freedom of expression and that the existing 1979 legislation is sufficient to stop Golden Dawn.

Evangelos Venizelos, the leader of Socialist party, said that the New Democracy change of opinion is an attempt for the New Democracy to reach “an audience on the fringe of Golden Dawn” ideology.

Venizelos, whose party is a junior coalition partner, said his party plans to draw up its own version of the bill if the government fails to approve it.

Golden Dawn has 18 lawmakers in the parliament and about 10 percent support in opinion polls.

Several of its supporters, including a number of its lawmakers, have been involved in recent violent assaults against immigrants.

It also constantly shows contempt towards the Greek parliament and the country’s President Karolos Papoulias.

On May 27, Golden Dawn lawmaker Panagiotis Iliopoulos was expelled from a parliamentary debate after he mocked the country’s opposition leader Alexis Tsipras.

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