Anti-Semitic Greek Minister Steps Down After Outcry

A junior minister in the new Greek government stepped down less than 24 hours after being appointed as outrage erupted on Wednesday over the anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks he's made in the past.

Dimitris Kammenos, a lawmaker from the nationalist Independent Greeks party who had been named junior infrastructure minister, sparked uproar earlier this year by comparing the EU to Auschwitz.

He is also accused of peddling a conspiracy theory claiming that 2,500 Jews employed in New York's World Trade Center "skipped work" on the day of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Kammenos had been one of five members of the right-wing party named to the government by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, which was also the junior party in his last administration.

As outrage over the nomination mounted, Tsipras stepped in to phone Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos – the new defense minister, who has himself been accused of anti-Semitism – to ask him to verify the allegations against Dimitris Kammenos.

Should the allegations prove to be true "his presence within the government would not be compatible with the values" of the cabinet, Tsipras was quoted by a government source as saying.

As unease over the appointment grew, Dimitris Kammenos issued a statement "denouncing racism, homophobia and anti-Semitism" and claiming that his social media accounts were managed by associates, not by himself, and that they have been repeatedly hacked.

"Most of (these postings) are distortions of the truth and have been carefully forged," he claimed.

However by late Wednesday the 49-year-old had stepped down, saying it was in the "national interest" and that he wanted to allow the "proper functioning of government."

AFP contributed to this report. 


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