Greek Minister of Justice Costas Tsiaras announced on Tuesday that the government is now withdrawing its decision to reintroduce the criminalization of blasphemy in Greece.
Following a public outcry and a massive wave of ridicule across social media, the Greek government made a major U-turn from its declared intention to once again make blasphemy a criminal offense in Greece.
Greece’s old blasphemy laws were abolished by the previous SYRIZA-led government when it was still in power, earlier in 2019.
Speaking with Thema and Skai radio stations on Tuesday morning, the Minister announced that the government will not go ahead with this change to the country’s penal code.
”I am very concerned. I am not hiding that there is a great deal of concern after the noise that has been caused, and it is certainly an issue that I see with great care,” Tsiaras told one of his radio interviewers.
Tsiaras had said that the government intended to reintroduce blasphemy criminalization in an effort to protect the rights of religious minorities; however, the extent of negative reaction seems to have persuaded the Mitsotakis Administration to take a step back.
The entire progressive opposition, as well as many liberal voices from within the Conservative government of Greece openly and forcefully expressed their disagreement with Monday’s decision.
SYRIZA MP Spiros Lappas said on Monday that he believed that the government’s intention was a despicable decision that ”ridicules the penal code and ridicules our country, a democratic country.”
Tsiaras had said that five other EU member states have blasphemy laws in force, and used the example of Denmark to support his decision, which abolished their own such laws and then later reintroduced them.
However, it seems clear at this juncture that the proposed reinstatement of blasphemy laws in Greece will not proceed.