Humanists International is deeply concerned that two members of the Humanist Union of Greece, Mr. Panayote Dimitras and Ms. Andrea Gilbert, are to stand trial this month after making a complaint about a high-ranking Greek Orthodox Bishop’s antisemitic hate speech.
In April 2017, after a high-level religious leader in the Greek Orthodox Church – known as the Metropolitan Bishop of Piraeus Seraphim – published a statement in which he referenced well-known antisemitic conspiracy theories around “global Jewish domination,” Dimitras and Gilbert filed a complaint against him.
Their complaint, filed with the Department for Combating Racist Violence (Attica Division), asked that the Bishop be held accountable for “hate speech and abuse of the ecclesiastical office,” both of which constitute crimes under the Greek Penal Code.
The Greek authorities decided to take no action against the Bishop in response to the complaint, but instead brought criminal charges against Dimitras and Gilbert. As a result of their complaint, the human rights activists are being prosecuted for the crime of “false accusation” under Article 229 of the Greek Penal Code. Dimitras and Gilbert are due to stand trial on 15 February 2022. If convicted, they could face more than 2 years in prison.
Panayote Dimitras, spokesperson for the Humanist Union of Greece, said:
“The Greek court will have to decide on 15 February 2022, whether what the Greek Jews called ‘antismetic delirium’ uttered by that Bishop is in fact part of the official doctrine of the Greek Church and thus a mainstream value in 21st century Greece.”
Humanists International calls on the Greek government to drop all charges against Dimitras and Gilbert immediately, and condemns the fact that they are facing abusive criminal charges for speaking out against the promotion of racism and hate speech by a religious leader and defending human rights and non-discrimination.