Thousands of Greeks protested on the streets of Athens Friday night against an attack by supporters of the neo Nazi Golden Dawn party upon members of the country's Communist party, the Guardian reported Friday night.
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Late on Thursday, about 50 wielding blunt objects violently confronted Communist party members in the Greek capital while they were passing out flyers, according to the Guardian. Nine leftists were hospitalized after sustaining severe wounds.
"The way in which they acted and the weapons employed are evidence of the murderous nature of the attack. Among the Golden Dawners, some of whom had covered their faces or wore helmets or [party] shirts, were their leaders, well-known fascists and thugs," the Guardian quoted from a statement released by the Communist party.
Tensions in the country, including warning of an impending civil war, have increased since the far-right party was elected to parliament last year.
In the parliamentary election in 2009, Golden Dawn received a fraction of one percent of the vote. In last year's election, its support rose to about 7 percent and opinion polls currently show it getting 13 to 15 percent of the support of the electorate, which would make it Greece's third largest party.
Two weeks ago, Jewish political activist Savvas Michael-Matsas went on trial in Athens for inciting violence against the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. He heads the small Trotskyite Revolutionary Worker's Party, and is charged with defaming Golden Dawn, inciting violence against its followers and disturbance of the peace.
Members of the Greek left have rallied to the defense of Matsas, 66, who is a leading figure among anti-capitalist circles in Greece. Supporters claim that the prosecution is political and serves the purposes of the ruling center-right New Democracy party. They have enlisted the help of left-wing organizations abroad, which have been asked to apply pressure on the Greek government.