The arrest of a 27-year-old Greek man for blaspheming a monk on Facebook has led to calls for Greece's blasphemy laws to be abolished.
The Greek man from the Island of Evia has been charged with “malicious blasphemy and insulting of religion” through Facebook, Keep Talking Greece reported. His arrest followed thousands of e-complaints to the Cyber Crime Unit for the creation of a Facebook page “Geron Pastitsios” (Elder Pastitsios), a mock name for Greek Athos monk, Elder Paisios, of the Greek Orthodox Church. Pastitsio is a Greek food dish.
According to Business Insider Twitter users have created the hashtag "#FreeGeronPastitsios" which is "going bananas in the Greek twittersphere" as people protest the Greek censorship.
Last week Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) tabled a question in Parliament regarding the Facebook page "user abuse, mocks and tries to humiliate the sacred form of the Greek Orthodox, Elder Paisios." However, Newsit.Gr reports that the Facebook user was under investigation by the Cyber Crime Unit prior to Golden Dawn raising the issue, and the arrest was a result of the investigation rather than a concession to Golden Dawn.
Freedom of expression is guaranteed under Greece's constitution but blasphemy laws exist under the penal code. According to UNHCR the law covers blasphemy and religious insult, protecting the "Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerable in Greece." Other European nations that still have blasphemy laws leading to prosecution are Ireland and Poland.
A petition has been created asking the Greek Parliament to abolish the blasphemy laws.