ATHENS – Greek Education Minister Costas Gavroglou said the ultra-extreme rightist Golden Dawn, whose 15 lawmakers and dozens of members are in the fourth year of a trial on charges of running a criminal gang, is trying to recruit teen students to its ranks.
He denounced the party for trying to “channel its nationalist poison to high schools,” telling reporters that what he called “Fascists” were trying to attract a new generation of followers through text messages and approaching them outside schools with propaganda and urging them to join party activities in the name of national issues.
“What they’re really trying to do is sow discord in the education community,” said Gavroglou who called on other political parties and educational institutions to condemn Golden Dawn and its activities. The party has been running third and fourth in polls showing it will return to Parliament even though the trial will likely last the next elections which must be held by October, 2019 as it's been able to keep its hard-core base.
Golden Dawn has been going after students for years, seeking those particularly susceptible to its anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant message, critics have said in denouncing their practices.
The Counter-Extremism Project said the party is focused on recruiting from Greek’s youth population, using gyms, athletic clubs, and martial arts clubs and especially likes to go after gullible high schoolers and accused by critics of using an indoctrination course called “national awakening,” aimed at children ages 6-10.
The ruling Radical Left SYRIZA charged the party was “brainwashing little tots with Nazi propaganda,” at the same time the Leftists are active going after the young to replenish its ranks and bring in new followers.
The Counter Extremism Project said Golden Dawn has a youth club, Galazia Stratia (Blue Army) and tries to bribe young potential recruits and hands out cell phones to students and even uses music to lure them.
Going after students is a common practice among political parties in Greece seeking to regenerate their ranks and even by groups such as the infamous Rouvikonas anarchists who set up a booth outside the University of Athens School of Philosophy and took over a classroom for a party to raise funds for what investigators said was to finance violent activities.