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GREECE
Violence and terror endemic in society

Throughout his term of office Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has moved towards more extreme, right-wing positions. Seeing him stand shoulder to shoulder with other world leaders – many of whom are, if not initiators, at least supporters of violence and terror in their own countries – before the huge demonstration in Paris following the murder of the Charlie Hebdo journalists would have made those victims turn in their graves.

They are likely to have found equally hypocritical the support by the stars of Hollywood and other sundry members of the West’s intelligentsia, who hastened to nail on their chests the "I am Charlie" badge – in the process forgetting that many have made fortunes with their films and articles where the values of the Western world always triumph over those of the Eastern and in particular of the Muslim world.

Fairly typical in this regard was French film-maker Luc Besson, whose films I love but are packed with often-gratuitous violence. Besson released a statement urging young people in France and elsewhere “to leave the gun and take up the pen” – presumably while preparing to produce further violent films.

Electioneering Samaras, meanwhile, has been terrorising the entire Greek population with warnings of the return of communists, a bank run, and Greece’s exit from the Eurozone and the euro. He rushed to Paris to join hands with the other leaders, conveniently ignoring his own and his party’s phobia regarding Islam, his policies against refugees – whom he terms “illegal immigrants” – the concentration camps inside Greece, and the strengthening of the country's borders with Turkey.

Academics within and outside the universities write articles and deliver lectures offering ideas, suggestions and methods for dealing with violence and terror. But their proposals have not been tested in the incandescent furnace of reality or society.

There are still questions that need to be answered within the academy about the Greek civil war and the atrocities committed at that time; the period of the colonels’ junta; or more recent atrocities such as the murder of a young musician by the thugs of Golden Dawn only last year.

Political violence appeared to be on the wane after the end of the civil war (1944-48), when communists and nationalists supposedly resolved their differences. The defeat of the communists left their followers either in exile in the Soviet Union or in concentration camps on several Greek desert islands. After their victory, the nationalists rushed to commit the country to the sphere of influence of the West.

This was revived briefly during the seven years of the military junta (1967-74), whose rule was based on the triptych of “motherland, religion and family”. The junta’s defeat by an embryonic left-wing movement and militant students at the Technological University brought about a so-called political changeover and the establishment of democracy.

A protracted period of stability and prosperity was followed by violence and terror promoted and propagated by urban guerrilla groups such as 17th November, ELA, Cells of Fire, and others. That ended with the arrest or voluntary surrender of most of their operatives just a few years ago.

Some individuals are still at large and continue their activities with sporadic frequency. But on the whole these movements have lost most of their credibility; and their ambition to create an Al Qaeda-, Hamas-, or Hezbollah-type of organisation has not inspired large sections of the Greek population.

An exception is the ultra right-wing, bordering on Nazism, organisation Golden Dawn. For a long period, it remained cleverly hidden inside other organisations such as the conservative New Democracy party and also the right-wing LAOS.

Having raised its very ugly head in the past few years, Golden Dawn managed to elect some 18 MPs in the most recent Greek parliament, with the prospect of electing a great deal more on Sunday. Most of its leaders, however, are in gaol accused of being part of a criminal organisation.

The strong possibility of a left-wing victory – whose slogan is "Hope is on the way" – is sending shivers down the spines of the Greek and European establishments. They fear the Left will challenge and possibly overturn the Merkel-Schäuble dominant economic point of view based on extreme austerity, which has degraded and debased large sections of the Greek population, and that this could also have a domino effect that would involve many other countries in the EU.

Violence is endemic in human beings and our society. It is present from the day we are born, in the family, in the school, in the university, in the place of work and in every other human activity. The measures taken from time to time to reduce or eradicate violence are not only inadequate, they are also irrelevant and more often than not cause a reaction that is difficult if not impossible to control.

A typical example at the moment is the fact of EU foreign ministers discussing establishing American-type measures put in place after the 911 attacks in America. These include access to personal details of aeroplane travellers, revision of the Schengen agreement, strict supervision of the internet, tapping of telephones and an increase in the defence budgets of the EU member states, with more money for police and security services.

In France and Belgium, the army is on the streets and the countries' respective prime ministers are enjoying increased popularity. A Fortress-Europe is under construction and the fascist National Front can only smile with satisfaction and await the not-so-distant future when it will be called on to govern.

The events in France and the measures that followed the attack are further proof that violence begets violence, and of how inadequate such measures are in preventing attacks against Christian communities in Muslim countries. The events show clearly that it is not only the West that can mete out punishment – while it hypocritically ignores the many war victims in the Ukraine, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, the Gaza Strip and other war zones.

People in the West and the Western intelligentsia support Charlie Hebdo; but where do they stand on the massacre and carnage of thousands of immigrants and refugees who lose their lives in the freezing waters of the Aegean or South Italy or the border with Turkey – or the many other places where human life becomes fodder for social, political and religious conflicts?
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