The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the European Humanist Federation (EHF) are calling on Greece’s new human rights chief to work to abolish the country’s actively-used “blasphemy” law. (Download the open letter below.)
The appointment of Maria Yannakaki to the position of Secretary-General for Transparency and Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice of Greece is seen as an opportunity by humanists locally to renew the challenge to this outdated law. Yannakaki has previously given her support to calls to abolish the “blasphemy” laws.
The IHEU-EHF open letter follows a written statement and oral statement to the UN Human Rights Council last year, delivered by the IHEU on behalf of the IHEU, EHF, British Humanist Association (BHA) and Humanist Union of Greece (HUG). And the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has called on Greece to repeal the two articles in its penal code, namely article 198 and 199.
A detail from the “Elder Pastitsios” Facebook Page
In Greece’s most famous contemporary “blasphemy” case, Philippos Louizos ( a.k.a. “Elder Pastitsios”), was convicted in January 2014 and handed a suspended sentence of ten months for Facebook posts using imagery that borrowed from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. His appeal is set for 2 March 2017.
In the open letter, the transnational humanist organizations write:
“Consistent with both your Government’s position and the UN CERD’s recommendation we urge you to see to it that the two legal provisions on the criminalization of blasphemy are abolished before that trial [the Philippos Louizos appeal] which if held would be another violation of freedom of expression, of religious freedom as well as of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.”