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Chaos Erupts Again in Greece, but This Time It's Retaliation Against the Neo-Nazis

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"Golden Dawn has violence as its priority and must be dealt with as a criminal organization."

(Source: AFP/Getty)

KERATSINI, Greece (TheBlaze/AP) — Violent clashes broke out in several Greek cities Wednesday after a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist was stabbed to death by a man who said he belonged to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

Anti-fascist protesters clash with riot police in Athens on September 18, 2013, after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi. Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, was stabbed to death early today morning outside a Keratsini cafeteria. Police said a 45-year-old alleged member of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group arrested at the scene of the killing had confessed to stabbing Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Kilah P. Police fired tear gas at a small group of anti-fascism protesters who pelted them with wooden sticks and stones. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The death of Pavlos Fyssas drew condemnation from across Greece's political spectrum and from abroad. While the extremist Golden Dawn has been blamed for numerous violent attacks in the past, the overnight stabbing is the most serious violence so far directly attributed to a member.

Golden Dawn leader Nicholas Michaloliakos denied that the party had anything to do with the stabbing.

An anti-fascist protester lights a flare during clashes in the western Athens working class suburb of Keratsini on September 18, 2013, after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi. Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, was stabbed to death early today morning outside a Keratsini cafeteria. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Fyssas, a hip-hop singer whose stage name was Killah P, died in a state hospital early Wednesday after being stabbed twice outside a cafe in the Keratsini area west of Athens.

A 45-year-old man arrested at the scene admitted to attacking Fyssas and said he belonged to Golden Dawn, police said. A knife with traces of blood was found near his car.

Clashes broke out Wednesday evening between riot police and thousands of protesters holding anti-fascist demonstrations in Fyssas' memory in Keratsini and another three cities.

In Keratsini, police fired tear gas and stun grenades at protesters who local media said had attempted to attack the police station. Demonstrators hurled rocks and gasoline bombs at riot police and set fire to dumpsters to create street barricades as passers-by fled for cover.

A protester throws a brick at riot police during clashes in the western Athens working class suburb of Keratsini on September 18, 2013, after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi. Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, was stabbed to death early today morning outside a Keratsini cafeteria. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Similar scenes played out in Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, where about 6,000 demonstrators marched. Greek media also reported violent clashes in the western city of Patras, in the northeastern city of Xanthi, in the central city of Larissa and in Chania on the southern island of Crete.

At the scene, where blood still stained the sidewalk, friends of the victim and residents left flowers and candles. The head of a small right-wing opposition party, Panos Kamenos of the Independent Greeks, was briefly assaulted by protesters when he attempted to visit the site.

Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos, whose Socialist party is part of the coalition government, said Golden Dawn had "surpassed every limit."

"Golden Dawn has violence as its priority and must be dealt with as a criminal organization," he said.

Protesters throw stones as they clash with police in the western Athens working class suburb of Keratsini on September 18, 2013, after a leftist musician was murdered by a suspected neo-Nazi. Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old left-wing hip hop singer, was stabbed to death early today morning outside a Keratsini cafeteria.  Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Hannes Swoboda, president of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, said Greek authorities should examine the possibility of banning the party altogether.

"Golden Dawn's openly xenophobic, neo-Nazi hatred even goes as far as murdering political opponents. This is shocking and intolerable by any standards, and more so in a European Union country," he said.

The rights group Amnesty International called on Greek authorities to prevent any further violence.

"Politically motivated violence of this kind is unacceptable anywhere, and history has shown the grim consequences if it goes unchecked. The Greek authorities must send a clear message that attacks like this will not be tolerated," said Jezerca Tigani, Amnesty's deputy Europe and Central Asia program director.

The suspect, who was not named in accordance with Greek law, appeared before a prosecutor later Wednesday, along with his wife, who was arrested on suspicion of concealing evidence to impede the investigation. A Golden Dawn party member and his wife also appeared in court alongside them on similar charges. Five prosecutors have been assigned to the case.

Riot police walk past a burning garbage bin in front of the Bank of Greece during a protest in Thessaloniki, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Violent clashes broke out Wednesday in several Greek cities after a member of the country s far-right Golden Dawn party was arrested in the fatal stabbing of a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist. The stabbing drew condemnation from across Greece s political spectrum and from abroad. While the extremist Golden Dawn has been blamed for numerous violent attacks in the past, the overnight stabbing is the most serious violence directly attributed to a member so far. Credit: AP

Golden Dawn, whose senior members have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler although they deny being a neo-Nazi group, won nearly 7 percent of the vote in the general election last year. Recent opinion polls show its support has since risen to around 12 percent.

Party members and supporters, often clearly identifiable in black T-shirts and combat pants, have been blamed for beatings and stabbings across the country, usually of dark-skinned migrants. In January, two men identified as party sympathizers were arrested for the fatal stabbing of a Pakistani migrant worker.

But Wednesday's killing was the first attributed to a Golden Dawn member, and the most severe attributed to political rather than racial motives.

Protesters run in the street as they clash with police in Thessaloniki, Greece Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013. Police searched offices of Greece s Golden Dawn party after a 34-year-old man was stabbed to death in Athens in an attack with suspected political motives. Police said in a statement that a 45-year-old man had been arrested and admitted to the stabbing, and to being a Golden Dawn supporter. Credit: AP

The party's deputies have also frequently engaged in outbursts and name-calling in Parliament, most recently insulting Muslim members of Parliament as Turkish agents.

"I am shaken by the event," Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said of Wednesday's attack. The killing and recent violent incidents "show in the clearest possible way the intentions of the neo-Nazi creation."

Golden Dawn, which denies it had any involvement in the stabbing, said party offices in the western city of Patras and on the island of Crete were attacked by groups wielding batons and throwing petrol bombs.

Michaloliakos, the Golden Dawn head, said his party "unreservedly condemns the murder of the 34-year-old at Keratsini and denies any involvement of the party."

"All the political parties must assume their responsibilities and not create a climate of civil war, giving a political character to a tragic event," he said.

Police spokesman Christos Parthenis said the suspect drove to the scene of an altercation between two groups of people, got out of the car and stabbed Fyssas. Friends of the victim told Greek media they had been attacked by a large group of men as they left a cafe.

ATHENS, GREECE - SEPTEMBER 18: Protesters clash with Riot Police during a protest, after the stabbing of a 34 year old man, in the suburb of Keratsini near Athens on September 18, 2013. Violent clashes broke out Wednesday in several Greek cities after a member of the countrys far-right Golden Dawn party was arrested in the fatal stabbing of a 34-year-old musician described as an anti-fascist activist. Credit: Getty Images

Golden Dawn lawmaker Michalis Avranitis said the victim and the suspect had initially argued about a soccer match.

"Yes, this man, as it turns out, has declared himself to be a member of Golden Dawn. But Golden Dawn has 1 million supporters," Avranitis said in Parliament. "If, in a restaurant, two drunken idiots have a fight and someone is stabbed, should we look at their ideology and blame that?"

Still, Golden dawn has lashed out in violence before, attacking immigrants and even opposition members.

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AP bureau chief Elena Becatoros reported from Athens. Costas Kantouris contributed from Thessaloniki.

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