The alleged murder of a prominent leftwing hip-hop artist by a self-confessed member of the far-right Golden Dawn party has sent political tensions soaring in Greece.
As the crisis-hit country was brought to a standstill by striking workers on Wednesday, police raided several Golden Dawn offices in Athens after the fatal stabbing late on Tuesday of 34-year-old Pavlos Fyssas, a well-known activist on Greece’s vibrant anti-fascist scene.
The raids came within hours of a 45-year-old man being arrested in connection with the murder. The alleged perpetrator, who has not been named, reportedly admitted having links to the extremist group, according to police.
Fyssas, Greece’s foremost hip-hop artist who performed under the stage name Killah P, is said to have identified the culprit as he was being taken to hospital after being injured in the brawl which broke out shortly after midnight in Piraeus’s working-class district of Keratsini.
“They were his last words before he succumbed to his wounds,” said one source requesting anonymity.
Keratsini’s mayor, Loukas Tzannis, said that black-clad Golden Dawn cadres were behind the attack and that Fyssas had been “ambushed” as he left a cafe after a heated altercation over a football match. Activists, who have accused the extremist group of increasingly targeting leftists, claimed police stood by when a mob of neo-Nazi thugs assaulted the singer.
In an atmosphere that has become increasingly polarised on the back of economic desperation – and soaring support for Golden Dawn – the backlash has been fierce.
Hundreds of anti-fascist supporters gathered at the scene of the murder in the early hours, with leftists announcing a much bigger rally later on Wednesday. The killing comes days after Golden Dawn cadres attacked members of the Greek Communist party in a similar late-night raid.
“Golden Dawn is intensifying its attacks [because it is] enjoying complete asylum from the police,” the anti-racist group Keerfa said in a statement.
Greek law enforcement officers have been increasingly accused of colluding with Golden Dawn, whose calling card appears to be open-ended violence.
The vehemently anti-immigrant organisation fiercely denied involvement in Fyssas’s death. A spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, announced that the party had already started launching lawsuits against those who made such claims.
Golden Dawn, which has 18 MPs in Greece’s 300-seat parliament, is currently polling at around 15% and is the country’s fastest-growing political force.