We Spent Last Night Watching Greek Antifascists Clash with the Police
Last night, more than 5,000 people stormed the streets in Keratsini, a working class neighborhood in western Athens. They were there to protest against the first political homicide in Greece since the early 1990s: the murder of Pavlos Fyssas—a 34-year-old antifa activist and rapper, known locally as Killah P—who was stabbed twice on Tuesday evening, reportedly by 45-year-old suspected Golden Dawn member.
According to police and news reports, a group of at least 20 far-right thugs in military uniforms and Golden Dawn T-shirts watched and ambushed the rapper and six of his friends as they left a local coffee shop.
George’s wife claims that the suspect was at home while the game was on and only headed out after receiving a phone call. It also appears that, right after plunging the knife into Pavlos—twice into his stomach and once into his chest—the suspect called his wife and instructed her to get rid of all the Golden Dawn paraphernalia he had lying around at home.
Greek Neo-Nazi Beach Party!
The Golden Dawn is a steel truncheon crunching the bones of the European Project. In the lifetimes of the generation who fought in the Second World War, mainstream Nazis have returned to the continent. To openly read the anti-Semite blood libels The Protocols of the Elders of Zionin the Greek Parliament. To suppress entire towns beneath their thumb as vigilante social “cleansers.” To increasingly hold the balance of power in an increasingly unbalanced state. And, to party.
That’s right, just because you spend your spare time whipping Egyptian taxi drivers with a bike chain doesn’t mean you don’t need to blow off a little steam every now and then. Which is how, every year, the Golden Dawn hardcore end up in Crete, having a racially-pure away-day, where they pretend to be Spartans. Spartans in Crete. A bit weird, but historical anachronism is not something they can spell, much less avoid. The basic idea is simply to have a bonding sesh, get all Judd Apatow and express their man-feelings with one another.
Moronic English Fascists Marched on Parliament in London
Since Lee Rigby’s murder in Woolwich last Wednesday, there has been a surge in Islamophobia in the UK. The English Defence League—long-time opponents of Islam, given that they’re basically Nazis—have attempted to capitalize on this by organizing a series of marches and demonstrations across the country. No matter that the bastards who butchered the soldier while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great) have been unanimously condemned by all sane Muslim groups and leaders—moronic people have still been posting grammatically awful status updates on Facebook, ten mosques have been attacked, and the number of anti-Muslim incidents has spiked since Rigby’s horrifying murder.
Before the events of last Wednesday, England’s street bigot patrols had been having a torrid time of it. They were used to having their asses handed to them wherever they went, which in turn led to infighting and disunity. Fortunately for the English Defence League (EDL) and unfortunately for anyone with a scintilla of decency or intelligence, a man’s tragic death at the hands of fanatics proved just the shot in the arm they needed to put their petty differences behind them and morph back into a cohesive Islamophobic machine, like the T-1000 reforming itself in Terminator 2, if the T-1000 was a drunk racist.
After taking to the streets of Woolwich in the immediate aftermath of Rigby’s death and holding a demo inNewcastle on Saturday—where a speech that consisted of “send the black cunts home” was enthusiastically applauded—the EDL was on the march in London again on bank holiday Monday.
We turned up at Leicester Square where the EDL were congregating. At this stage they were defending Western civilization from an Islamic fundamentalist landgrab by getting tanked up on Jacques fruit cider at a Yates’s wine bar. They passed the time by imploring children to get the last ever tickets for the Spice Girls musical to “stick your fucking Jihad up your ass.”
Along with several screaming newspaper front pages, many members of the EDL were angry that David Cameron is currently holidaying in Ibiza in the middle of what the media are determined to label a “terror crisis,” chanting, “Where the fuck is Cameron?” I’m not sure how having Dave standing around trying to look important for the cameras would help the situation. Has nobody considered that he might have been orchestrating all ten arrests connected to the murder from the poolside, in between pints of San Miguel?
After a while they set off towards Downing Street, joined as they went by more supporters. If you’ve been paying attention, you can probably tell from this picture that this was the biggest far-right street party for some time. I longed for the last time the EDL came to Westminster, not so very long ago, when they only managed to rouse about 85 people whose love for spending their weekends shouting stupid things at bored police officers was truly hardcore. Unfortunately, misplaced anger at a soldier’s death and the hot weather combined to bring out the dilettantes.
As the march made its way down Whitehall, it was met with the jeers of some anti-fascists who didn’t want to let the march happen unmolested. For some reason, these guys didn’t buy the EDL’s line that they’re not racist.
I’m finding it hard to put my finger on exactly what it was, but something gave me the impression that the anti-fascists might have had a point. Having said that, it would be unfair to look at the maniacal behavior of one or two people and suppose that their actions represented the will of a whole community.
My Week with Hungary’s Far Right
Above: Members of Magyar Nemzeti Garda, a Hungarian nationalist militia.
Hungary has one of the most highly organized far-right movements in Europe. The Jobbik party—admired by those fed up with government corruption, derided by opponents as anti-Gypsy, anti-Semite, neo-Nazi homophobes—look set to become the second biggest presence in Hungarian parliament when the elections take place in 2014. I spent a week with them trying to find out what motivates their hate.
There’s something stirring in Europe. In Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, France, Spain, and the Ukraine, support for nationalism is growing and the parties that represent nationalist interests are making tangible strides. Jobbik preaches an ideology of restoring Hungary to its former glory, which—although vague and the exact intention I’d imagine most political parties are going for—obviously becomes more attractive and believable when there are Gypsies to scapegoat. That ideology has led to their enjoying huge success at the ballots, with their uniformed nationalist militias often marching through the streets unopposed.
Last November, I watched in horror as 10,000 far-right nationalists swarmed through Warsaw. I was making a film about the rise of the far right in Poland and saw fascists in balaclavas attacking press photographers and fighting pitched battles with police. I thought these would be the worst scenes of fascism I would ever witness in Europe, but it’s clear that Hungary has bigger problems on the horizon.
On May Day in Budapest, I found myself standing in the middle of an 8,000-strong crowd of Jobbik supporters, watching nationalist rockers Karpathia play awful patriotic rock songs. The crowd was a bizarre mix of saluting neo-Nazi skinheads, elderly nationalists, and ordinary young Hungarians. I was there with Channel 4 News, and while the crew was busy shooting footage of the stalls selling whips and axes and the bouncy castles and petting zoos run by skinheads, I managed to find myself alone in the crowd as the national anthem started up.
Who Firebombed London’s Oldest Anarchist Bookshop?
Staff at Freedom Press, London’s oldest anarchist publisher and bookshop, woke last Friday to the news that someone had tried to burn their shop down in the early hours of the morning.
Founded in 1886, Freedom has been at the heart of radical East London for over a century, featuring on walking tours and seemingly, from my time spent in the shop, serving as the first stop-off point for every European crusty looking for a squat to stay in or a protest to rage at.
The shop sits just off Whitechapel High Street, down Angel Alley – wedged between an art gallery and a KFC. If you need to pick up something by Bakunin, Chomsky or the utterly bonkers John Zerzan then this is where you go, past the linoprint heads of Emma Goldman and Peter Kropotkin and close the door after you because it’s always cold in there.
At around 5AM Friday morning an arsonist entered Angel Alley, smashed a window, poured accelerant into the shop and sent the books, pamphlets and irreplaceable archives of Freedom newspaper up in flames.
That night I went inside the building with one of the shop’s most dedicated activists, Andy. It smelled awful, there was soot across the roof and charred books sat in piles. There was no structural damage to the building but Freedom has no insurance and were already mired in the financial shit. Looking at the horrific mess, I thought the shop would have to close for months, but this morning they’re back open for business.
Before you joke about anarchists owning a building, or organising a clean-up, read up on the rich history of working class self-organisation the movement draws on. At its height in 1930s Spain, anarchists ran collectivised hospitals and operated Spain’s most popular daily newspaper.
Immigrants Are Being Stabbed to Death on the Streets of Athens
"I urge you to stop racism. At last, you have to realize that we are human beings and we are immigrant workers. We want justice," shouts Javed Aslam, the Pakistani president of the Union of Immigrant Workers in Greece. He is addressing the crowd of about 5,000 people, who have marched all the way to Syntagma Square, in front of the parliament building, to protest against fascism and the growing wave of racist attacks against immigrants, some of which have been fatal.
The demo is occuring a couple of days after the murder of Shehzad Luqman, a 27-year-old Pakistani worker who was stabbed to death by a 29-year-old fireman and his unemployed, 24-year-old accomplice, both Greek and suspected Golden Dawn members. During the early morning of January 17th, Shehzat was cycling to his employer’s house in Petralona to load their truck before heading to the open-air market. The two offenders, who claim they had a fight with Shehzat because he’d been blocking their way, stopped their motorbike and stabbed him in the chest, causing his death a short time later.
Unlike many crimes against immigrants that go unreported, this one was witnessed by neighbors and a taxi driver who recorded the motorbike’s plate and called the police. When arrested a short time later, one of the assailants still had the bloody knife in his pocket.
Watching Fascists, Anti-Fascists, and the Police Fight Each Other At Bristol Gay Pride
For those who haven’t been paying attention, the EDL is a group that seems to sincerely believe Britain is under imminent threat of being taken over by fundamentalist Muslims. Ignoring the hundreds of years of evidence which suggests that Britain is run by a cabal of rich, white, Christian men, the EDL have taken it upon themselves to nip this imaginary problem in the bud by marching drunk into towns and cities and slurring their inarticulate rage at the local Islamic population. Last weekend the boys went to drizzly Bristol where they hung out with cops and a bunch of antifascists.
In the days leading up to Saturday’s demo, posters were put up around Bristol reading:
“On the 14th of July the EDL want to march through our city to promote HATE. Let’s all give them a PROPER Bristol welcome. See you there my lovers.”
VICE photojournalist Henry Langston and I enjoy watching fascists and antifascists collide, so we jumped on a train to the West Country.
EDL divisions arrived on trains, coaches, and in cars, and the police carried out their standard tactic of herding them into a parking lot before they set off on their march.
It took a while to corral the dispersed Islamophobes to the muster point. This gave the antifa who had been lurking around town an opportunity to get in some opening shots. The police tried to arrest a few guys for lobbing bottles at the EDL, but two of them escaped when their mates ran in and saved them from a night in a cell.
This man had no such luck, though, and was subjected to a tea-bagging he’ll never forget.
When they were safely in the parking lot, some members of the EDL decided to spend some time engaging the locals and warning them of the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism.