Athens, November 13, 2019
The new conservative Greek government has brought back the blasphemy laws that were abolished less than 6 months ago by the previous leftist SYRIZA government.
Those who violate the law could face up to two years in prison. The changes were announced by Justice Minister Kostas Tsiaras on Monday, reports Keep Talking Greece.
Article 198 on malicious blasphemy and the abhorrence of religions provides for, “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.”
Article 198 was first incorporated in the Greek penal code in 1950, remaining until SYRIZA threw it out. “Seriously, do you think that God needs the prosecutor’s protection?” SYRIZA member Spyros Lappas asked the Justice Minister.
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,” while rejecting the claim that the blasphemy laws are an anachronistic return to the past.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, the President of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, responded that, “The restatement in the Criminal Code of the provisions on the offense of malicious blasphemy and the abuses of religions is obviously not intended to protect God, the Divine, the Orthodox Church, or any other religion, as they do not need human protection,” reports Romfea.
“It aims, however, at preserving the religious sentiment of the faithful and the overriding interest, in particularly troubled times, of social peace and social cohesion—goods that cannot be trampled on by the ‘rightist’ logic of freedom of speech, including abuses, fanaticism,” he continued.
“But above all, the whole issue is a matter of culture,” the Archbishop said.
At the same time, tougher penalties for the transportation of migrants, rape, and child abuse were introduced, reports Russian Athens.