ATHENS: At the time of his death, Greek rapper and anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas was little known beyond the country's underground hip-hop scene. But overnight he has became a household name and an unlikely symbol of social tension and racism in Greece.
Fyssas, 34, died on September 18 after he was stabbed by a supporter of the far-right Golden Dawn party.
Six Golden Dawn MPs, 14 party members and two police officers have since been arrested on charges of acting as a criminal organisation. The party denies any link to the murder.
Police said they found weapons, ammunition and thousands of euros in cash during raids on party members' homes, including leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos.
Nikos Konstandaras, the managing editor of newspaper Kathimerini, believes the crackdown on the neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant party by the government is long-overdue.
"The head-on confrontation was a long time coming; until the murder of Fyssas by a man who confessed to being a member of Golden Dawn, the group appeared to enjoy absolute impunity," Konstandaras said.
"Greece's economic crisis has uncovered many problems in our society. The rise of Golden Dawn is one of the most serious, but more importantly, it has also represented a major distraction from the fundamental problems faced by our economy, public administration and society."
Since elections last year, the party has increased its support, capitalising on fears that illegal immigration is out of control while the economy |suffers its sixth year of recession amid austerity measures and an unemployment rate of more than 27 percent.
More than 150 attacks on migrants and political opponents were recorded last year and 104 so far this year.
Two immigrants have been killed, again blamed on the party, which has openly called for the immediate arrest and deportation of illegal immigrants.
But only after the killing of Fyssas have authorities finally acted. The government submitted legislation to parliament yesterday aimed at suspending state funding to the party.
It won nearly 7 percent of the vote and 18 deputies in elections last year. It has also won over many Greeks who are furious with the political |system, which they see as being self-serving and corrupt. - Sapa-dpa
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Original headline: Greece takes on neo-nazi fascists
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