Schools in crisis-hit Greece are proving a fertile ground for Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi group suspected of orchestrating attacks on migrants whose popularity is on the rise, anti-racism activists warn.
Capitalizing on popular anger with the perceived decades-old corruption of mainstream parties, the group had 18 lawmakers elected to the 300-seat Greek parliament and is now the party of choice for one in 10 Greeks, polls show.
Still thin on numbers, Golden Dawn now seeks to spread the word to the next generation.
In various schools “there are organized gangs harassing foreign pupils and their parents, verbally so far but with an intensity that could at any minute turn into physical violence,” said Nicodemos Maina Kinyua, the editor of Athens-based African magazine Asante.
The Kenyan-born journalist, who has lived in Greece since childhood, says the country’s education system offers fertile ground for neo-Nazi influence. “The dominant concept in school is that Greeks invented everything at the time when the rest of humanity was perched on trees, eating acorns,” he said.
Golden Dawn has taken a strong hand in enforcing the teaching of “accurate” history in schools. The group denies that students were killed by security forces inside the Athens Polytechnic in 1973, a seminal event considered to have hastened the downfall of the army dictatorship then ruling the country.