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Greece: anti-fascist activist on trial

Savvas Michael-Matsas, leader of a small radical-left party, went on trial in Greece Sept. 3, charged with "libellous defamation," "incitement to violence and civil discord" and "disturbing the public peace" in a case brought by members of the far-right Golden Dawn party. Michael-Matsas' Revolutionary Workers' Party (EEK) has a slogan of "The people don't forget, they hang fascists." Michael-Matsas himself had publicly boasted: "I'm the embodiment of every fascist's fantasy. I'm a Jew, a communist—and a heretical communist, a Trotskyist, at that. I don't fit anywhere. The only thing I happen not to be is homosexual." Co-defendant Konstantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of Athens Polytechnic, stands accused of allowing progressive news website Athens Indymedia to use the university's server.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, former Golden Dawn candidate Themis Skordeli, was charged in a stabbing attack on an Afghan immigrant in September 2011. Her trial has been postponed eight times. The MP Ilias Panagiotaros, another of the complainants, owns a shop called Phalanga (Greek rendering of Falange, a name used by far-right paramilitary movements in Spain, LebanonBolivia and elsewhere) that sells street-fighting paraphernalia; he told the BBC last year that Greece is heading for civil war.

Michael-Matsas' friend Maria Margaronis, in commentary for The Guardian, charges that he was targeted by Golden Dawn in part because he is Jewish: "[P]icking out the Jew to be the first to walk the plank is sleazy beyond belief, a cheap sop to the fascist gallery. As one of the few Jewish public intellectuals in Greece, Savvas has long been targeted by neo-Nazi websites, with slogans like 'Crush the Jewish worm' and claims that he can be found lurking under every stone, fomenting civil war among pure-blooded Greeks in order to establish a Judeo-Bolshevik state. He has also been accused of being both an agent of Iran and a fully paid-up member of the international Zionist conspiracy (in fact he's a fierce anti-Zionist)." (Enet EnglishHa'aretz, Sept. 3; The Guardian, Sept. 1)

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