Greece must examine the legality of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which has campaigned on an anti-immigrant platform under the slogan "so we can rid this land of filth," a senior European official said in an interview published on Sunday.
The Council of Europe is set to send a mission to Greece to assess if racism and xenophobia are on the rise in the country, its Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks told Greek newspaper To Vima, according to AFP.
Muiznieks said Golden Dawn, which won 18 seats in the 300-member parliament in last month's election, was the "most overtly extremist and Nazi party in Europe".
The party, whose logo closely resembles a swastika, employs blatantly anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric and has been accused of involvement in attacks on Jews and foreigners. The party openly displays copies of “Mein Kampf,” as well as other works on Greek racial superiority at party headquarters.
Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has claimed that Nazi concentration camps did not use ovens and gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.
"There were no ovens — it's a lie. I believe it's a lie. There were no gas chambers either," Michaloliakos said at the time.
"The question to be asked is whether Golden Dawn will allow a democratic regime to flourish freely", Muiznieks said, adding that attacks on foreigners and refugees "are directly linked to the racist speeches spread" by the party.
He also called for close scrutiny into alleged links between the party and the police, according to AFP.
In a report this month entitled "Hate on the Streets", Human Rights Watch called on Athens to take urgent action to stem an alarming rise in attacks on Asian and African immigrants, including stabbings and serious beatings.
"The state should not be allowing gangs of thugs to mete out vigilante violence in its city streets," lead researcher Judith Sunderland said.