The square in front of the Greek Parliament looked like a market-place early this morning. Shortly before nine, members of the far-right party Golden Dawn occupied the lower part of Syntagma and started handing out free food. However, not everyone could take it, but only Greek citizens who showed their ID cards before receiving the products.
The food - potatoes, pasta products, olive oil, milk and baby food, all made by Greek producers, arrived gradually. Young people in black shirts imprinted with the party's name and the Greek flag brought them to the improvised stand, from where they were taken by the queued needy citizens. Deputies from the party also participated in the operation.
Several hundreds of people in need came to the stand, the great majority of whom are supporters of Golden Dawn and announced openly that they voted for the party in the elections. Some went to the stand several times in a row, in order to take from all the products. Together with the food, they received an issue of the party newspaper bearing the same name.
The square was full of party members' cars and motorcycles and it was guarded by the police. Tension was felt in the atmosphere, which rose further, when one of the black-clad youths made verbal attacks and open threats to a man who, in spite of his Greek identity card, spoke to his friends in Albanian. The spirits calmed only after the intervention of several of his colleagues and deputy Ilias Kasidiaris.
But feelings soon ran high again, shortly after 12:30, when the police informed the organizers that once they had completed the distribution of products, they must leave the square. Then the outcry began, led by the deputies, who shouted that "if we were immigrants we wouldn't have any problem staying here as much as we wanted."
The crowd began shouting the familiar slogans "Blood, honour, Golden Dawn" and "Greece to the Greeks" and shortly afterwards dispersed and left Syntagma.
As became clear, the conflict regarding the activist action had started to take place on the specific square much earlier. The extreme nationalists actually managed to hold the event without having the formal permission from the municipal authorities. The argument for the refusal was that the most central square in the country is not the best place for such events. Municipal officers have even offered the people of Golden Dawn alternative places, also in the centre of Athens.
"Social solidarity is not a matter of ostentation. Giving away food in the square outside the parliament brings the picture of a city which is just about to fully collapse", said for ANA agency the chief of the municipal press office George Stamatopoulos. He added that the municipality would issue an announcement in which the illegal occupation of the square would be condemned.
The reaction of Golden Dawn was sharp. In a party's statement the party says that the refusal to grant permission for the use of Syntagma for this purpose is "a pathetic order, which prohibits giving food away" by the "mayor of illegal immigrants" George Kaminis.
"The answer was given by the thousands of Greeks who received today tons of free Greek food and took a stand against the municipal authorities. The attorney of illegal immigrants has no problem when Athens - a city with a history - becomes a laughingstock because of the protests of half-naked individuals and the illegal immigrants' trade with contraband goods. A-50's reaction (Greek police chief Papagiannopoulos) was even more pathetic, who was discomposed by the cars loaded with products, but who wasn't bothered at all by the thousands of shopping carts stolen by Pakistanis. "Finally, and in quite an indecent language, the party said that they would continue to ignore such prohibitions.