ATHENS, Greece —
In a statement, congress President Moshe Kantor, said: “We congratulate Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on the crackdown ... and hope that the Greek leadership will make this a central part of the European Union presidency, which they will assume in January 2014.”
A formerly marginal organization, Golden Dawn won only 0.29 percent of the vote in a 2009 national election in Greece, but saw its popularity explode by capitalizing on public resentment over an influx of illegal immigrants.
Downplaying its extremist roots and presenting itself as a “patriotic” force, the party won public support by patrolling streets, doing the shopping for elderly residents, and collecting back rents for apartment owners with migrant tenants.
During the heyday of Greece’s anti-austerity protests in 2011, Golden Dawn members carried Greek flags and loudly blamed migrants and foreign “predators.”
Last year’s election put 18 Golden Dawn lawmakers in the 300-member parliament, and party members have frequently been suspected of physically attacking immigrants.