SWC to Greek President: Politician’s Swastika Tattoo is Grounds for Banning the Symbol Nationally
Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Tuesday called on Greek President Karolos Papoulias to ban the public use of the Swastika after photos surfaced of a high-profile Greek politician sporting a tattoo of the offensive symbol on his shoulder.
The front page of the August 4th edition of Greek’s largest newspaper, Poto Thema, featured the photo, obtained from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, of Golden Dawn Party Member of Parliament and Spokesman, Elias KasidiÃ ris, on his beach vacation last week.
Golden Dawn are considered by mainstream Greek parties as “extreme right” and “neo-Nazi.”
“The XXL swastika on KasidiÃ ris’s arm is, arguably, the only such contemporary Nazi anatomy on any lawmaker in Europe,” Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, wrote in a letter to the Greek president.
“Mr. President, as author of a study of the Greek resistance movement against the Nazis, you must feel pained that Greece—the ancient cradle of democracy—today counts Nazis in its Parliament,” Samuels wrote.
“Golden Dawn not only menaces Jews, Roma and Gays as did its 1930’s German Nazi forebears. Its dark cloud hangs over every Greek, citizen or immigrant,” he continued.
“As President, you stand above politics, but as Head of State, your role is central to symbolism and national honor”, Samuels added, urging the Greek President to “invoke the prestige” of his “office to launch moves to ban the swastika” in Greece.
“Then perhaps, by the time Greece takes over the European Union Presidency on 1 January 2014, Mr. KasidiÃ ris with his tattooed arm may be excluded from Parliament, reserving that limb for ‘Sieg Heil’ salutes away from the public domain,” Samuels concluded.