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Greek gov’t brings back Blasphemy Laws, penalty up to 2 years in prison

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”?

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9 comments

  1. These right wing half-wits remind me of the right wing military half-wits who took over Greece in 1967. Perhaps they will also introduce laws banning miniskirts, or more likely these days, the burka. When will politicians learn to keep out of religion and people’s personal lives?

    • Γιώργος Καπουτζίδης

      This decision is not solely targeting religion but teaching respect to the various believes of other people.
      I personally am tired to listen to people around me in Greece swearing and cursing. I also don’t see any reason why I have to educate my children to ignore such language and idiots making use of profanity. It is disrespectful to humanity.

      • People may mock political ideas, criticise the views of scientists, make fun of the beliefs of union workers, draw cartoons of entrepreneurs, curse when talking about their bosses, etc. etc.

        But the idea of having imaginary friends needs special protection?

        Treating religious people like little children who can’t look after themselves is actually much more disrespectful than to assume that they are as able to cope with criticism as everybody else.

      • My friend you are right, but we live in a country which democracy have dorn(want to believe) if we create laws which are non democratic at all.. Democracy is free speach with no barriers.

  2. Blasphemy and its secular synonym – “hate speech” – are similar in nature.

    The sole purpose of charging people with either blasphemy or the crime of “Hate Speech” is to prevent an open discussion, which is the main basis for changing people’s view.

    • No. not at all. Blasphemy laws are to protect a religion. Hate speech is to protect people’s rights — such as religious belief, sexual orientation, and even such basic differences as disability, age, ethnicity/race and gender. Quite how you think what a court judges to be hate speech could constitute “an open discussion” is really quite amazing.

      Open discussion about these things is available to everyone, provided that they do not engage in hate speech or physical violence.

      • “Hate speech is to protect people’s rights ”
        I found your statement really ironic Joseph!
        -What rights are violated exactly…. other than our democratic rights of course? I can joke or ridicule any ridiculous or irrational idea I found relevant…this is what Democracy is all about.
        You do understand that swearing isn’t the only issue here. Exposing or even ridiculing the ridiculous and irrational nature of ideas and claims also qualify as an unlawful act! The terms “malicious” and “hate speech” are, unfortunately, “observer relative terms”.

  3. I’m glad my family visited Greece while we could. I haven’t nor do I plan of making a habit of committing blasphemy while on vacation, but that doesn’t mean I would travel to a country where it is illegal when I can avoid it.