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Amnesty International blasts Greece for blasphemy charges against gay play

AMNESTY International is calling on the Greek authorities to protect freedom of expression by binning the blasphemy charges brought against everyone involved in Terrence McNally’s play, Corpus Christi.

A production of the play in Athens was cancelled after weeks of almost daily protests outside the theatre where it was being staged by priests and right-wing groups, including deputies from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party.

The lawsuit is understood to have been instigated by the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Seraphim of Piraeus who claims that the play contains blasphemous messages, interpreted to include insinuations of homosexuality for figures revered by Christians.

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus

Said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s programme Director for Europe and Central Asia:

This is an alarming development for freedom of expression in Greece especially following the prosecution of the journalist Kostas Vaxevanis a few weeks ago after he published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts.

The right to freedom of religion does not extend to having one’s religious beliefs protected by the state against criticism or commentary.

Dalhuisen added:

The Greek authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against the play’s producers and cast and fully respect freedom of expression.

David Jenkins, who runs the Anglican Samizdat blog is against the prosecution too, and said of the play:

The whole thing is so patently absurd that, were it not for the fact that it upsets Christians, no-one would pay any attention to it.

But it does upset Christians and it has upset the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Seraphim of Piraeus enough for him to launch a lawsuit against the production for ‘insulting religion’ and ‘malicious blasphemy’.

I think this is a mistake: the play deserves all the obscurity it can get.

Since I believe in the importance of free speech, Terrence McNally who, coincidentally is married to another – much younger – man, is entitled to say what he likes about whom he likes.

Just as I am entitled to refer to Terrence McNally as a snivelling, pusillanimous pile of parrot droppings who doesn’t have the guts to give Mohammed a similar treatment and has to make do with a catamite because no woman would have him – if I so choose.

Ooooh. Get her!

The Bishop is quite a litigious old bugger. In April this year he filed suit against Athens Archbishop Nikolaos Foskolos for allegedly violating the Greek constitution by running a Catholic school in Piraeus.

He cited Article 13 of Greece’s constitution, which prohibits proselytism. He was then accused by the Catholics of “intolerance” and “fanaticism”. Ha!

I have no idea how the case panned out and I really can’t be asked find out. Taking the dogs out for a walk is a much more pressing concern.

 

15 Responses to “Amnesty International blasts Greece for blasphemy charges against gay play”

  1. barriejohn says:

    “Can’t be arsed”, Barry. That’s what you should of put!

  2. Bill Murray says:

    “should have” dammit!

  3. barriejohn says:

    Oh, no: I have just posted a comment saying that irony is wasted on the internet!

    (It was a running joke here on Countdown.)

  4. Matt Westwood says:

    Stupid hat, stupid beard, stupid religion, stupid existence.

  5. Cliff Knoetz says:

    A production of the play in Athens was cancelled after weeks of almost daily protests outside the theatre where it was being staged by priests and right-wing groups, including deputies from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party.

    Much as I wish this were true…

  6. remigius says:

    Cliff. You know thats’s not what Barry meant!

  7. Trevor Blake says:

    “The right to freedom of religion does not extent to having one’s religious beliefs protected by the state against criticism or commentary.” – John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s programme Director for Europe and Central Asia. Fri, 16/11/2012 [link]

    Compare the above recent statement with the below prior statement, both from Amnesty International.

    “The right to freedom of expression is not absolute — neither for the creators of material nor their critics. It carries responsibilities and it may, therefore, be subject to restrictions in the name of safeguarding the rights of others. In particular, any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence cannot be considered legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. Under international standards, such “hate speech” should be prohibited by law.” – Freedom of Speech Carries Responsibilities for All.

    The first statement is about ‘not respecting’ Christianity in a Greek play. The second statement is about ‘not respecting’ Muslims in a Dutch newspaper. I’d like to think Amnesty has re-thought their support for having one’s religious beliefs protected by the state against criticism or commentary. That the second statement shows up in searches but the page itself has been removed might suggest that. I’d sure like to think that, indeed. But the trend on the left is lack of respect for Christianity is held to different standards than lack of respect for Islam.

    Me? I say phooey to all of them. Phooey!

  8. Robster says:

    Don’t the Greeks have bigger problems than this inspired piece of silliness? What about the debt, the economy, the strikes, the value of the euro and the rest of their ramshakle economy? Pray people pray and then spend the rest of your life waiting for the baby jesus, god and the ghost thing to fix it. While you’re waiting, do us all a favour and hold your breath.

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    @Robster: It’s distraction tactics and scapegoatism. At risk of invoking Godwin’s Law, it’s like what happened in Germany in the 1930s. All they need now is a hateful psychopath with charisma and there it is, all over again. Tin hat time, folks …

  10. OurSally says:

    slightly OT, I know, but did publishing the Swiss bank accounts do any good? It’s certainly admirable.

  11. Lazy Susan says:

    Matt – I agree with you. When times are hard, it is possible for some quick-talking demagogue to come up with simple solutions to all our problems – the combination of strong leadership and identifying an external threat would appeal to many. A couple of years ago, democratic process in Italy was suspended. Thats not a good sign.

  12. allismyth says:

    Freedom means you are free to do, think, or say what “I” say you can.
    But it does upset Christians and it has upset the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Seraphim of Piraeus enough for him to launch a lawsuit against the production for ‘insulting religion’ and ‘malicious blasphemy’.

    While it is okay to poke his finger in the eye of the world and say what evil scum they are.

  13. Teflonicus says:

    Clearly, Trevor Blake, you can’t tell the difference between criticism of a religion and encouraging hatred of a religion. The rest of us can though, so let us know when you catch up.

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