Following escalating outrage over the killing of an anti-fascist Greek rapper last week, police have now arrested the leader of the extreme-right (and misleadingly named) Golden Dawn party, as well as several other members of parliament in Greece.
Golden Dawn, Greece's extreme right-wing party, is currently being investigated for the murder of musician 'Killah P' — a.k.a Pavlos Fissas, who bled to death after being stabbed on September 18 by a man who claimed to have links to the party. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the head of Golden Dawn, has been arrested on charges of forming a criminal organization, as have three other Golden Dawn legislators and 12 more party members. They are all due to appear in court this weekend.
Although Michaloliakos rejected any party involvement in the killing, the death of the 34-year-old rapper caused outrage across the country, pushing a previously hesitant government to crack down on Golden Dawn, which has been widely accused of neo-Nazism.
"This government is determined not to allow the heirs of the Nazis to poison our social life, to commit crimes, to terrorize and to undermine the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy," Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told the nation soon after the killing.
Following the arrests late Saturday morning, Golden Dawn called for supporters to rally at the police headquarters in the country's capital, telling them: "We call upon everyone to support our moral and just struggle against the corrupt system!"
Golden Dawn — now ranked Greece's third most popular party – rose to power last year, winning nearly 7 percent of the vote as well as 18 seats in the 300-member parliament during the 2012 general elections, garnering support largely because of promises to prevent illegal immigration. But it's been widely seen as neo-Nazi, with an emblem which resembles a swastika and senior members expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler.
The last time there was a mass arrest of members of parliament was 1974, when Greece's military dictatorship fell. But Golden Dawn legislators will keep their seats in parliament until they're convicted of a crime — so far, Prime Minister Samaras' government has been reluctant to ban the party entirely, worried that it might boost its popularity, much like the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood has in Egypt.