Blogger Filippos Loizos, who created a Facebook page mocking a revered Greek Orthodox monk has been sentenced to ten months in prison in Greece after being convicted of “insulting religion”. The crime unit of the local police department arrested Loizos on grounds of malicious blasphemy and offending religion in September 2012 after thousands of people complained against the Facebook profile of fictitious Elder Pastitsios.
The Facebook page was in the name of Elder Pastitsios, a satirical figure that allegedly poked fun at a deceased Orthodox monk. Loizos’ creation was based on Elder Paisios, a renowned deceased monk who Greeks revered for his prophecies and miracles. While the satire did use Paisios’ image, it tweaked his name to Pastitsio, which is the name of a Greek pasta and béchamel sauce preparation. This idea is rather reminiscent of Pastafarianism, a global satirical movement that supports irreligion.
The local police department was informed of the satirical page by newly elected neonazi member of parliament from Golden Dawn, Christos Pappas, who also addressed the issue in parliament. Pappas, who is currently in jail facing charges of involvement in a criminal organization, said Elder Pastitsios “taunts, mocks and tries to humiliate a sacred figure of Greek Orthodoxy, Elder Paisios.” He said that the education minister should take action against the page as well since he has responsibility for religion.
Loizos was arrested and his page was brought down within four days of Pappas’ complaint. His arrest garnered worldwide interest and led to the creation of a trending Twitter hashtag even - #FreeGeronPastitsios.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia
Dean Van Drasek
Many countries have laws on the books allowing them to clamp down on "hate" speech or blasphemy, or as in this case some other law especially protective of a State sponsored religion. The backlash to free speech can be harsh and effective, as believers are still in the majority, and that means votes for politicians.