Photo courtesy Aravella Simotas
By Rebecca Henely

City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio denounced the Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi party native to Greece, for its plans to move into New York and distributing hate literature in Astoria.

De Blasio was joined in his protest Friday at Athens Square Park, at 30th Street and 30th Avenue, by local elected officials, including Greek-Americans state Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and District Leader Costa Constantinides, as well as Jewish leaders.

“You are not welcome in this community, this city or this country,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Your hatred and bigotry will fall on deaf ears in Queens, the most diverse county in America, where people of every race, creed and nationality live side by side in harmony.”

Golden Dawn, also known as Chrysi Avgi, has been active since 1993 under founder Nikolaos Michaloliakos, who has denied that the Third Reich systematically killed Jews in gas chambers and who has been accused of doing the Nazi salute.

The party has only been able to enter Greece’s Parliament within the past year, running on an anti-immigration platform, Al Jazeera reported. Of the 300 seats in the parliament, Golden Dawn received 21 in May 2012, but the number was knocked down to 18 in a second election a month later.

Golden Dawn announced it would be opening a headquarters somewhere within the city in late September. In Astoria, home to the largest population of Greeks outside Greece, de Blasio said there have been sightings of Golden Dawn’s hate literature.

Simotas, who came from Greece to the neighborhood with her parents when she was 6 months old, said in a statement that there is no room for an anti-immigrant agenda in Astoria.

“We were welcomed in Astoria with open arms by the generations of immigrants that came before us,” Simotas said. “This is what we in Astoria stand for as a community.”

Constantinides echoed her sentiment.

“Their message plays to the worst of humanity,” he said of the party. “They are not representative of the amazing Greek community that I know and love.”

Alan Jaffe, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, said in a statement the council supports free speech but is offended by the presence of Golden Dawn.

“Their ideology is rejected by the Greek community here in Queens, and we will continue to work with our local ethnic and faith partners to combat all forms of racism and intolerance,” he said.

Golden Dawn has also received criticism for its plans to open a New York branch from members of the protest movement Occupy Wall Street and the hacktivist group Anonymous, which claims to have taken down Golden Dawn Division NY’s website, xanyc.org. The website was still unreachable as of Tuesday afternoon.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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