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In Greece, 10 Months In Prison For "Blasphemous" Facebook Page 324

First time accepted submitter etash writes "A bit more than a year ago a man was arrested in Greece for satirizing a dead monk, after the far-right party golden dawn, petitioned for his arrest. A couple of days ago he was given a ten-month sentence. What actually enraged the religious Greek blogosphere was not the satire. He wrote a fictitious story about a miracle done in the past by this specific monk. The story was then sent to [a religious blog] and then in a matter of days it was copy pasted and presented as true by most of the religious and far-right blogs and news sites. The final act of the dramedy took place when he came out and revealed that the story was not real; he intended to show the absurdity and the lack of reliability of these sites."
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In Greece, 10 Months In Prison For "Blasphemous" Facebook Page

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  • Language (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:27PM (#46007655)

    He wrote a fictitious story about a miracle done in the past by this specific monk.

    If he really wrote it then it wasn't fictitious. You may be looking for the word "fictional".

  • Not neccesairly (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:30PM (#46007685)

    EU or specific member countries also have laws that prohibit certain types of speech. For example you can't deny holocaust or promote Nazi ideology. I believe some of EU countries have specific laws that prohibit denigration of religion.

  • Re:Not neccesairly (Score:4, Informative)

    by ReallyEvilCanine ( 991886 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:42PM (#46007761) Homepage
    The "denigration of religion" is a messy situation which still needs clear legal decisions; this case might lead to one.
    Denying the Holocaust is illegal here in Germany not because of opinion but because it is a false statement, clearly and irrefutably documented. However, what was supposed to be the big deciding case -- Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria -- was denied because her statements weren't determined not to be simply thoe of fact:

    It is the opinion of the Court that defaming Mohammad was a primary purpose of the seminars, rather than the purported purpose of providing factual knowledge of Islam. Thus, the seminars have made no meaningful contribution to discussions that would be of public interest, but instead had a primary purpose of defaming Mohammad, an icon of a legally recognized religion.

    Secular as so many EU countries are, there are problems due to "legally recognised religion", a natural progression stemming from the inclusion of some sort of religion in the countries' constitutions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 19, 2014 @05:48PM (#46007793)

    Well -since i am a Greek- let me explain.
    That guy did a hoax/satire using a dead Greek Christian monk highly respected in my country - it wasn't his first hoax/satire against Christianity...
    That was noticed by a right-wing political group and they used an old law for "protecting the religious beliefs/feelings of people against mockery" (created many decades earlier for protecting the Muslim minority) to instil -in an ironic way... we are Greeks...- a sense of logic!
    The guy said in an interview he gave in the Greek media that even the police officers and the prosecutors were really upset that they had to charge him... but "dura lex, sed lex" - don't worry, he is not going to jail or anything like that.

  • Re:Not neccesairly (Score:5, Informative)

    by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:06PM (#46007919)

    Denying the Holocaust is illegal here in Germany not because of opinion but because it is a false statement, clearly and irrefutably documented.

    No, it's because it's the Holocaust. Just making a false statement is not illegal.

  • by umafuckit ( 2980809 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @06:23PM (#46008041)

    I'm Greek but haven't lived there permanently since I was I child, so someone who's currently living there may have a different take on this: What you have to understand is that religion in Greece is approached somewhat differently to countries like the US or the UK. If you're Greek then it's pretty much a given that you're also baptised Christian Orthodox. It's only recently, amidst controversy, that "religion" has been removed from the national ID cards (

    The link between nationality and religion is particularly strong because of the recent history of the country. What was to become the modern state of Greece begun its revolution from the Ottoman empire in 1821. Religion was an important factor in helping to create the "us vs them" mentality required to rise the people against the Ottomans. Following the revolution, religion was one of the tools used to bind the nation together. Religion and history were used a vital social glue, since the post-revolution Greeks were having a hard time organising and governing themselves without squabbling. Furthermore, the 19th century was the first time Greece existed as a state in its own right, so this was a particularly difficult period. Before that "Greece" was part of the Ottoman empire, before that the Byzantine (which was, admittedly, Greek speaking), before that it was the Romans, before that it was city states. Over the course of its history, different parts of Greece have also been occupied by the Venetians, the Franks, and the English.

    As a result of this turbulent history, Greeks now take their national identity very seriously and religion is part of that identity. Most Greeks aren't truly religious and few go to church regularly. There isn't any crazy religious extremism like the Bible belt US and there is little preaching in church: the priest does the liturgy (same every day) then he leaves. However, the extreme right wing Golden Dawn have, predictably, hijacked religion as it's a good way of mobilising Greeks against the dark skinned immigrants and gays they so detest. So none of this really about religion at all and religious Greeks can cope with satire of the sort discussed here. All of this is about the Golden Dawn seeking every opportunity to flex its muscles.

    The Golden Dawn are pretty fucking crazy. They've yelled "Heil Hitler" during a parliament session ( and their PR guy smacked a far-left politician in the face on live TV ( and later claimed, again on TV, that he was defending himself and that she hit him first (I don't have an English language link to that movie).

  • Re:Not here! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:26PM (#46008843)

    What separation ?

    Your presidential oath is finished by a beautiful "So help me God", as is the citizenship oath, and every coin and bank note feature a the famous "In god we trust". So I really don't know what you are talking about...

    The degree of separation between church and state in the USA is in theory guaranteed by the first amendment to the US constitution, specifically the 'Establishment Clause' which has generally been understood to prohibit congress from designating a national religion and to forbid the US government from preferring one religion over the other. In reality, however, the extent of this separation has been the subject of fierce debate. It is clear from the private correspondence of US founding fathers such as Thomas Jefferson that they wanted "a wall of separation between church and State". Even so there are powerful forces at work trying to minimise the height and thickness of that wall and as you pointed out they have already chiseled a few gates into it.

  • Re:Not neccesairly (Score:4, Informative)

    by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @08:59PM (#46009101) Journal

    Here is Holmes's original argument, which he subsequently uses to justify the most odious intrusions on the right of free speech.

    The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic. It does not even protect a man from an injunction against uttering words that may have all the effect of force.

    In 2003, there was a fire at the The Station [], a Rhode Island nightclub. Wikipedia notes

    By this time, the nightclub's fire alarm had been activated, and, although there were four possible exits, most people naturally headed for the front door through which they had entered. The ensuing stampede led to a crush in the narrow hallway leading to that exit, quickly blocking the exit completely and resulting in numerous deaths and injuries among the patrons and staff.

    In other words, there was a real fire, and instead of calmly leaving the nightclub, there was a panicky stampede, and people got killed in that stampede. Fire safety standards were even looser in Holmes's time, so the possibility or being killed in a stampede was even higher. And while a stampede might be an understandable reaction to the threat of fire, "falsely shouting fire and causing a panic" could mean that people would die for no other reason than the shouter's grossly irresponsible prank.

  • by synir ( 731266 ) < minus pi> on Sunday January 19, 2014 @09:29PM (#46009279)
    I'm Greek. What's really amusing is that the Golden Dawn party - right wing nuts that they are - are simply using a thin guise of Christianity themselves, and that only to better appeal to the masses. In the eighties the exact same individuals were in the same party publishing their material openly worshiping the ancient Dodecatheon. That's right, Zeus, Hera, all those deities. It came pack and parcel with preaching their nationalist superiority ideals.

    They were at best marginalized if not outright ridiculed until the financial crisis hit. Once they realized a whole lot of people were desperate and looking for someone to hate, someone to blame for their misfortunes they also figured out this was a prime opportunity for them to rise in actual power. They reshaped their speeches, packaged their image a little better to appeal to senior citizens and angry young men then pointed a finger to immigrants, Jews, you name it - while of course suddenly featuring a deep faith in all things Christian. Complete with hatred and barely restrained racism, because of course that's what Christianity is all about.

    The worst part of this? They have an excellent chance in being a kingmaker in the next elections. It will come down between the current conservative government and a leftist coalition of political powers in Greece, but it's quite likely neither will have the majority on their own. And the Golden Dawn is squarely third in the polls right now... and of course they'll be able to make a deal so that a government can be formed at all.

    Neonazis in power. It's a nightmare.

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Sunday January 19, 2014 @09:50PM (#46009405)

    Hitler's speeches are in German, and the US public mainly only has memories of the swastika as symbolizing an evil enemy. Thus, swastika-wearing, Hitler-quoting neo-Nazi movements have little resonance with Western/US audiences; the insidious power of Hitler's own words and symbols has little resonance with the American people. However, more "home-grown" groups, promoting similar ideologies but without swastikas or German-language slogans, do get a significant amount of traction in the US --- if you wrap up the ugliest racism, xenophobia, and far-right authoritarianism in an American flag, you can attract quite a following. So, while Nazis-calling-themselves-Nazis are only a fringe joke in the US, Neo-Naziism by other names is far from being "not a problem."

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @02:11AM (#46010817)

    Excellent post and as far as I'm aware you're quite right, Neo-Nazism simply hasn't become a real problem in Western democracies.

    As you say, "awareness" is part of the problem. You aren't aware, and neo-Nazism is a problem in Europe.

    'Like 1930s Germany': Greek Far Right Gains Ground []

    Nowhere else in Europe are neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists profiting as greatly from the financial crisis as in Athens. As they terrorize the country with violence, the police stand back and prosecutors are powerless.

    Marian Kotleba: Slovakia’s New Neo-Nazi Governor Only Latest of Right-Wing Extremists Emerging In Eastern Europe []

    Kotleba, whose organization has long agitated against Slovakia’s Roma (Gypsy) minority, branding them as “parasites,” once belonged to the now-outlawed Neo-Nazi Slovenská Pospolitos (Slovak Community) movement that praised the Nazi puppet government that ruled the country during World War II. Bloomberg reported that Kotleba openly admires praised Jozef Tiso, president of the Nazi satellite state in Slovakia during World War II, which dispatched thousands of Jews to Nazi concentration camps. Kotleba, a 36-year-old former high school teacher, has been notorious for sporting Nazi-style uniforms in public, and also repeatedly arrested and sued for spreading racism and hate (no such charges have ever stuck, however).

    Russia: Far-Right Nationalists And Neo-Nazis March In Moscow []

    Neo-Nazis form expanding networks beyond national borders []

    The cooperation between right-wing extremists from different countries is gaining strength. Experts warn that this phenomenon could have dangerous consequences.

    Neo-Nazi parties on the rise in Europe, Jewish group warns []

    BUDAPEST, Hungary -- The World Jewish Congress said Tuesday it is greatly concerned about the emergence of what it called neo-Nazi parties in Europe, singling out Greece's Golden Dawn, Hungary's Jobbik, and Germany's National Democratic Party.

    A study presented at the congress's assembly in Budapest, the Hungarian capital, highlighted the links among the growing strength of such extremist groups, the European economic crisis and latent Nazi-type tendencies in Europe.

  • Re:Violation of ECHR (Score:5, Informative)

    by psymastr ( 684406 ) on Monday January 20, 2014 @04:15AM (#46011325) Homepage

    In Greece, judges are required to suspend all non-felony sentences, unless the convicted has a criminal record. Even if you have a criminal record, the sentence can be still suspended, and even if it is not then, for non-felony sentences, you can buy the prison time for 10 euros per day.

    If you get a suspended sentence it does not show on your public criminal record, only to the one available to judges.

    So there is no chance that this guy will go to prison, and the conviction is very likely to be reversed when the appeal is heard.

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.