From firstname.lastname@example.org Sun Mar 12 12:27:39 2000
Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 21:08:04 -0600 (CST)
From: “IFEX Action Alert Network” <email@example.com> (by way of Greek Helsinki Monitor <firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Subject: [balkanhr] Greece update (”blasphemous” book banned)
(GHM/IFEX)—On 9 March 2000, Salonica judge Maria Robbi banned a best-selling book that was condemned by the Greek Orthodox Church because of passages about the possible sexual longings of Jesus Christ. She justified the ban as a means to prevent “outbreaks of violence” after religious zealots threatened to take action against the author and bookstores selling the book.
The ban will remain in effect until 16 May, when a hearing is to be held on a suit to permanently halt the sale of “M to the Power of N”, written by former communist parliament deputy Mimis Androulakis. The ban only applies to Salonica and adjacent prefectures, which are the judge's area of jurisdiction. The book will be available in the rest of Greece.
At the same time, additional criminal charges for “blasphemy” have been filed by the Salonica prosecutor's office against the book's author and publisher.
The book contains fictional dialogues between women whose names all begin with the letter M. The central theme is misogyny in various aspects of life, including religion. One chapter mentions a possible sexual dimension in the relationship between Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, a prostitute who became a follower.
The suit was filed by fundamentalist Orthodox and Byzantine history teacher Marios Pilavakis, who argues that Christ's life cannot be open to fictional reinterpretation. He has been joined by a mix of ultra-nationalists and religious fanatics. At the 8 March court hearing, dozens of black-robed priests and monks stormed the court house and Robbi's chambers, chanting “blasphemers” and “antichrists” at Androulakis' defense lawyer, Thomas Trikoukis, who was beaten by some protesters. No arrests were made, though s uch attacks committed in a courtroom are considered especially serious by the Greek penal code.
The church and its leader, Archbishop Christodoulos, refused to comment on the decision. But Metropolitan Kallinikos, a spokesman for the church's ruling body, said Androulakis had no right “to insult millions of our faithful with what he has said about the leader of our faith.” Nearly all political parties, writers' and journalists' unions and scholars have condemned attacks and court decisions against Androulakis.
As Associated Press reported, with one exception, Greek publishers said they could not recall any book being banned in Greece since the fall of the 1967 to 1974 military dictatorship. Two years ago, a court banned a Greek language dictionary and ordered the author to remove an insulting reference, the abusive use of the word “Bulgarian,” to refer to residents of Salonica. That decision came after a Salonica city council member filed a complaint. But the Supreme Court overturned the ban, saying that although the word's derogatory definition was legally insulting, constitutional guarantees on free speech did not allow books to be banned or censored (see IFEX alerts of 29 January 1999, 29 July and 27 May 1998). Nevertheless, the dictionary's author, Professor Babiniotis, did introduce the court-mandated changes in the second printing.
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