Monday, November 19, 2012

No freedom of speech in Greece

Corpus Christi is an American play which depicts Jesus and his friends as gay men living in modern Texas. But when it opened in Greece, the premiere was disrupted by the fascist Golden Dawn party, who beat people while police stood by and watched. And now, its cast and crew have been charged with blasphemy:

Charges of "insulting religion" and "malicious blasphemy" have been filed after Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus lodged a lawsuit against those involved in the play, the officials said on Friday.

The play's director told Reuters he was stunned that prosecutors had chosen to go after him rather than pursue tax evaders and others blamed for driving Greece to near-bankruptcy.

"What I see is that there are people who have robbed the country blind who are not in jail and the prosecutor turns against art," Albanian-born Laertis Vasiliou said.

If found guilty, Mr Vasiliou and the other defendants could face several months in prison. A trial date has not been set yet.

Greece is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, which affirms both freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Prosecuting people for criticising religion is obviously incompatible with either. But thanks to austerity-induced fascism, Greece is fast turning away from those values, and towards something rather frightening. And the Orthodox church, who previously backed the quasi-fascist, theocratic LAOS party, seems to be going along with it.