The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights said Tuesday that Greece has the legal right to ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, the first time an international rights organization has raised the prospect of such a ban.
Commissioner Nils Muiznieks, who visited Greece from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1, said in a 32-page report that he was "seriously concerned" by the increase in hate crimes targeting immigrants in Greece.
Golden Dawn, which gained 18 seats in the country's 300-member parliament, has become notorious for its blatant anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric and has been responsible for perpetrating attacks on Jews and foreigners.
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 last year.
The party, whose logo closely resembles a Nazi swastika, openly displays "Mein Kampf" at party headquarters and has campaigned under the slogan “So we can rid the land of filth.”
A report by Human Rights Watch warned that xenophobic violence has reached “alarming proportions” in parts of Greece, and accuses authorities of failing to take the necessary steps to stop the trend.