The conservative Greek government brings back the Blasphemy Laws the previous government SYRIZA had abolished less than six months ago. Violating the blasphemy laws could send those insulting God and the Greek Orthodox Church up to two years in prison.
The changes in the relevant Penal Code were announced by Justice Minister, Kostas Tsiaras, at the second reading of all Penal Code changes in the Parliament Committee on Monday.
Malicious blasphemy and the abhorrence of religions (Article 198):
- Imprisonment of up to 2 years for anyone who maliciously swears at God and who publicly and maliciously swears at the Greek Orthodox Church or any religion tolerated in Greece.”
“This is the way we cure everything and create the conditions for top-notch phenomena to be dealt with in a specific way in the recent past,” the justice minister said.
The Penal Code was changed by SYRIZA government five months ago. Among the new provisions was also the abolition of the Article PC 198.
Article 198 was first incorporated in the Penal Code in …1950!
“Seriously, do you think that God need the prosecutor’s protection?” member of the Parliament committee and SYRIZA rapporteur Spyros Lappas asked the minister. Bringing back this law “offends our democratic country. What is the legal benefit? Should the one who blasphemes go to hell and go to prison? Who had such a provision? Only the Middle Eastern or Asian fundamentalist states had this provision.,” Lappas said.
Responding to criticism, Tsiaras said “we want to safeguard the real rights and real freedoms of people, regardless of their political or religious beliefs and religious doctrines.”
He rejected the claim that the blasphemy laws were an “anachronistic view”and that the whole was a “return to the past.”
Pointing out at the migration problem and the reactions of local communities to re-settlement, Tsiaras said “With all that we have seen, lately, with the resettlement of refugees and migrants in the inland, and with the problems that some local communities are beginning to create, and since there is not a general culture, shouldn’t we protect the real freedoms of the people?”
Whatever the minister’s motive, Greeks are known to use lots of “profane talk” without respect for religious figures.
Upon hearing the return of blasphemy laws and in an effort to make fun of it, lots of Greeks on social media started to express their anger about a series of Greek stuff writing their insults and swearing in ….acronyms.
PS If there is the distinction “malicious blasphemy” may we ask if there is also “benevolent blasphemy”?