Facebook page mocking Greek Orthodox monk leads to jail sentence

Filippos Loizos found guilty of blasphemy after portraying the late Father Paisios as a pasta-based dish

Reuters in Athens, Friday 17 January 2014 13.15 GMT

Filippos Loizos created a Facebook page mocking Father Paisios

Filippos Loizos created a Facebook page mocking Father Paisios, a monk revered for this spiritual teachings. Photograph: David Sillitoe for the Guardian

A man who created a Facebook page poking fun at a revered Greek Orthodox monk has been sentenced to 10 months in prison in Greece after being found guilty of blasphemy.

Thousands of Greeks took to social networking sites to protest against the arrest in 2012 of Filippos Loizos, 28, who used a play on words to portray Father Paisios as a traditional pasta-based dish.

“He was merely satirising in a country that gave birth to satire,” his lawyer, Yorgos Kleftodimos, said on Friday. “Never and by no means did he insult the Orthodox church.”

Father Paisios, who was revered for his spiritual teachings and was said by some believers to have powers of prophecy, died in 1994.

Loizos had appealed against the ruling and would not be jailed before his case was heard by a higher court, Kleftodimos said.

The charges against him, of insulting religion and malicious blasphemy, were filed after Christos Pappas, a politician from the far-right Golden Dawn party, brought the issue before parliament. Pappas is currently detained pending trial on charges of belonging to a criminal group, as part of a government crackdown on Golden Dawn.

While blasphemy charges are not commonly filed in Greece, a similar case in 2012 was brought against the group behind an American play that depicted Jesus Christ and his apostles as gay. The charges drew criticism from human rights groups and politicians who said the country’s blasphemy laws were outdated.

The production of Corpus Christi was cancelled after weeks of protests outside the theatre by priests and far-right groups, including Golden Dawn politicians.

Reposted from The Guardian’s website