US Department of State Religious Freedom Report for 2017: Greece

US Department of State
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

International Religious Freedom Report for 2017: Greece

Executive Summary

The constitution states freedom of religious conscience is inviolable and provides for freedom of worship with some restrictions. The constitution recognizes Greek Orthodoxy as the “prevailing religion.” The law prohibits offenses against “religious peace,” including blasphemy and religious insult, punishable by prison sentences of up to two years. The government continued enforcing the blasphemy laws, leading to the arrests of at least five citizens in four separate cases. The constitution prohibits proselytizing, and no rite of worship may “disturb public order or offend moral principles.” At least 28 different religious communities are officially registered with the government under various laws, and a 2014 law outlines the procedures for other groups to obtain government recognition. Religious groups without legal recognition are able to function but may face administrative difficulties and additional tax burdens. The Greek Orthodox Church and, to a lesser extent, the Muslim minority of Thrace and the Catholic Church receive some government benefits not available to other religious communities. A court granted legal recognition to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community. The government granted a permit for the first time for a polytheistic group to operate a house of prayer. Some members of the Thrace Muslim community opposed the government’s appointment of muftis, advocating that the community elect them. The government amended a series of laws to allow private citizens and municipal authorities to apply for permits to operate crematory facilities for those whose religious beliefs do not permit burial in Greek cemeteries; to allow Muslim students in primary and secondary schools to be absent from school on Islamic religious holidays; and to establish an administrative committee for a mosque in Athens. The law also allowed for the descendants of deceased Greek Jews born in the country prior to May 9, 1945 to obtain Greek citizenship. The government improved the process for mosque modifications in Thrace. Jehovah’s Witnesses said, the government did not approve their requests to be exempted from military service in several instances. The criminal trial of 69 members and supporters of the Golden Dawn (GD) political party, widely considered anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, continued. They were charged with multiple attacks, including several against Muslim migrants, from 2011 to 2014. GD members of parliament (MPs) continued to make anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim comments. The government continued to fund Holocaust education programs and commemorate Greek Holocaust victims.

Media reports of incidents of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim discrimination and hate speech continued, including some directed at immigrants. Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to report incidents of discrimination by some private citizens while preaching or when distributing information material in Athens and in other cities. There were reports of vandalism against religious properties, including Holocaust memorials and a Greek Orthodox church. Police launched investigations and made some arrests; however, the prosecutor had not filed charges in these cases by the end of the year.

The U.S. Ambassador, visiting U.S. officials, and other embassy and consulate representatives met with officials and representatives from the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs, including the minister of education and the secretary general for religious affairs. They confirmed minority communities could apply for and establish houses of worship, learned about government initiatives that affect the Muslim minority in Thrace and immigrants, and expressed concern about anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim acts and rhetoric. Embassy officials also engaged the archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church and other metropolitans, as well as members of the Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, Bahai, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), and Jehovah’s Witness communities to promote religious tolerance and encourage interfaith dialogue. The embassy sponsored two international exchange participants for a program on minority migrant integration and tolerance. The embassy promoted religious tolerance through the Ambassador’s remarks via social media, including his remarks at the Conference on Religious Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East.

Section I. Religious Demography 

The U.S. government estimates the population at 10.8 million (July 2017 estimate), of whom it estimates 98 percent are Greek Orthodox, 1.3 percent Muslim, and 0.7 percent other religions. According to a 2015 poll by Kappa Research Firm, a local private research firm, 81.4 percent of the population self-identifies as Greek Orthodox, 2.9 percent identifies with other religious groups, and 14.7 percent is atheist.

Muslims constitute a number of distinct communities including, according to the Council of Europe’s European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance, approximately 100,000-120,000 individuals in Thrace descending from the Muslim minority officially recognized in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. According to local religious leaders and migrant activists, approximately 150,000 Muslim immigrants and foreign workers from Southeastern Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa continue to reside mostly in and around Athens, clustered together based on their countries of origin. Additionally the UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that approximately 49,000 recently arrived migrants and asylum seekers remained in the country at year’s end – mostly from Muslim-majority countries.

Other religious communities report that their members combined constitute between 3 and 5 percent of the population. These include Old Calendarist Orthodox, atheists and agnostics, Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, members of polytheistic Hellenic religions, Scientologists, Bahais, Mormons, Sikhs, Seventh-day Adventists, Buddhists, and members of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKON).

Section II. Status of Government Respect for Religious Freedom

Legal Framework

The constitution recognizes Greek Orthodoxy as the “prevailing religion.” The constitution states freedom of religious conscience is inviolable and provides for freedom of worship under the protection of the law with some restrictions. The constitution prohibits proselytizing, and no rite of worship may “disturb public order or offend moral principles.” The constitution allows prosecutors to seize publications that offend Christianity or other “known religions.” The law prohibits offenses against “religious peace,” including blasphemy and religious insult, which are punishable by prison sentences of up to two years. Blasphemy cases may be brought before civil and criminal courts. Development of religious conscience among citizens is listed as one of the goals of state education according to the constitution. Greek Orthodox priests and government-appointed muftis and imams in Thrace receive their salaries from the Greek government but are not considered to be state officials.

The constitution stipulates ministers of all known religions shall be subject to the same state supervision and the same obligations to the state as clergy of the Greek Orthodox Church. It also states individuals shall not be exempted from their obligations to the state or from compliance with the law because of their religious convictions.The Greek Orthodox Church, the Jewish community, and the Muslim minority of Thrace have long-held status as official religious legal entities. The Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, two evangelical Christian groups, and the Ethiopian, Coptic, Armenian Apostolic, and Assyrian Orthodox Churches automatically acquired the status of religious legal entities under a 2014 law. The same law also provides for groups seeking recognition to become religious legal entities under civil law. The recognition process involves filing a request at the civil court, providing documents proving the group has open rituals and no secret doctrines, supplying a list of 300 signatory members who do not adhere to other religious groups, demonstrating that there is a leader who is legally in the country and is otherwise qualified, and showing that their practices do not pose a threat to public order. Once the civil court recognizes the group, it sends a notification to the Secretariat General for Religions.With legal status, the religious group may legally transfer property and administer houses of prayer and worship, private schools, charitable institutions, and other nonprofit entities. Some religious groups have opted to retain their status as civil society nonprofit associations that they acquired through court recognition prior to the 2014 law. Under this status, religious groups may operate houses of prayer and benefit from real estate property tax exemptions, but they may face administrative and fiscal difficulties in transferring property and operating private schools, charitable institutions, and other nonprofit entities.The law allows religious communities without status as legal entities to appear before administrative and civil courts as plaintiffs or defendants.A religious group that has obtained at least one valid permit to operate a place of prayer is considered a “known religion” and thereby acquires legal protection, including a tax exemption for property used for religious purposes. Membership requirements for house of prayer permits differ from the requirements for religious legal entities. The granting of house of prayer permits is subject to approvals from local urban planning departments attesting to the compliance of a proposed house of prayer with local public health and safety regulations, and the application requires at least five signatory members of the group. Once a house of worship receives planning approvals, a religious group must submit a file including documents describing the basic principles and rituals of the religious group, as well as a biography of the religious minister or leader; the file must be approved by the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs. The leaders of a religious group applying for a house of prayer permit must be Greek citizens, European Union nationals, or legal residents of the country and must possess other professional qualifications, including relevant education and experience. A separate permit is required for each physical place of worship.The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne gives the recognized Muslim minority of Thrace the right to maintain mosques and social and charitable organizations (auqafs). Government-appointed muftis are allowed to practice sharia and render religious judicial services in the area of family law for those members of the Muslim community in Thrace who opt to use the services of a mufti instead of civil courts. The government, in consultation with a committee of Muslim leaders, appoints three muftis in Thrace to 10-year terms of office, with the possibility of extension. Civil courts in Thrace routinely ratify the family law decisions of the muftis. The muftis also appoint imams to serve in the community’s mosques.The law protects an individual’s right to predetermine his or her form of funeral service and burial location in the presence of a notary. Individuals are allowed to designate the location and the method of funeral service under conditions that relate to public order, hygiene, or moral ethics, as well as a person responsible for the execution of funeral preferences. On July 28, the parliament amended existing legislation to allow private citizens and municipal authorities to apply for permits to operate crematory facilities to benefit those whose religious beliefs do not permit burial in Greek cemeteries. On October 18, the parliament passed an amendment changing the use of land in Eleonas region, in central Athens, thus paving the way for the construction by the local municipality of a crematory facility.All religious groups are subject to taxation on their property used for nonreligious purposes. Property used solely for religious purposes remains exempt from taxation, as well as municipal fees, for groups classified as religious legal entities or “known religions.”A law passed by parliament on August 8 exempts monasteries on the peninsula of Mount Athos from paying pending property tax on any properties owned inside or outside Mount Athos.Home schooling is not permitted for children. The law requires all children to attend nine years of compulsory education in state or private schools and one year of compulsory preschool education in accordance with the official school curriculum. Greek Orthodox religious instruction in primary and secondary schools is included in the curriculum. School textbooks focus mainly on Greek Orthodox teachings; however, they also include some basic information on some other “known” religions – ones the courts define as having “open rituals and no hidden doctrines.” Students may be exempted from religious instruction upon request, but parents of students registered as Greek Orthodox in school records must state the students are not Greek Orthodox believers in order to receive the exemption. There are no private religious schools, although certain foreign-owned private schools and individual churches may teach optional religious classes on their premises, which students may attend on a voluntary basis. The law provides for optional Islamic religious instruction in public schools in Thrace for the recognized Muslim minority and optional Catholic religious instruction in public schools on the islands of Tinos and Syros.A law passed on August 4, effective for the 2017-2018 school year, enables members from the Muslim minority and Catholic communities who teach in state schools to retain these positions if they are also called to serve as muftis or bishops. The law also provides for excused absences for Muslim students in primary and secondary school for Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha and the following day.The government operates secular Greek-Turkish bilingual schools and two Islamic religious schools in Thrace. The law in Thrace provides for Islamic religious instructors to teach Islam to the Muslim minority in Greek-language public schools in lieu of mandatory twice weekly Greek Orthodox religious courses. Muslim students in Thrace wishing to study the Quran may also attend after-hours religious classes in mosques.The law establishes an annual 0.5 percent quota for admission of students from the recognized Muslim minority to universities, technical institutes, and civil service positions. Two percent of students entering the national fire brigade school and academy should be from the Muslim minority in Thrace. On February 14, the parliament amended existing legislation to standardize and simplify the certification process for teaching staff from the Muslim minority in Thrace.The law provides for alternative forms of mandatory service for religious conscientious objectors in lieu of the nine-month mandatory military service. Conscientious objectors are required to serve 15 months of alternate service in state hospitals or municipal and public services.The law prohibits discrimination and criminalizes hate speech on the grounds of religion. Individuals or legal entities convicted of incitement to violence, discrimination, or hatred on the basis of religion, among other factors, may be sentenced to prison terms of between three months and three years and fined 5,000 to 20,000 euros ($6,300 to $24,000). Violators convicted of other crimes motivated by religion may be sentenced to an additional six months to three years, with fines doubled. The law criminalizes approval, trivialization, or malicious denial of the Holocaust and “crimes of Nazism” if that behavior leads to incitement of violence or hatred, or has a threatening or abusive nature towards groups of individuals. The National Council against Racism and Xenophobia, an advisory body under the Ministry of Justice, Transparency, and Human Rights, is charged with preventing, combating, monitoring, and recording racism and intolerance and protecting individuals and groups targeted on several grounds, including religion. The National Commission for Human Rights, comprised of government and nongovernmental organization (NGO) members, serves as an independent advisory body to the government on all human rights issues.An amendment passed by the parliament on March 28, allows the descendants of deceased Greek Jews born in the country prior to May 9, 1945 to obtain Greek citizenship.The law requires all civil servants, including cabinet and parliament members, to take an oath before entering office; individuals are free to take a religious or secular oath in accordance with their beliefs. Witnesses in trials must also take oaths before testifying in court, and can also select between a religious and a secular oath in both civil and criminal cases.The country is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Government Practices

Summary paragraph: The government continued enforcing the blasphemy laws, leading to the arrests of at least five citizens in four separate cases. All blasphemy cases during the year related to statements against Orthodox Christianity. Charges against six of the organizers of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGTBI) group Thessaloniki Pride for malicious blasphemy were dropped, but the case remained open as authorities continued to search for the individuals who created the artwork cited in the complaint. A soccer player was suspended for several games because he “cursed the divine.” An appeals court annulled the sentence of a blogger convicted in 2014 of “habitual blasphemy and offense of religion.” The criminal trial of 69 party members and supporters from the GD political party, widely considered anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim by scholars, media, and other observers, on charges including murder, membership in a criminal organization, conspiracy, weapons possession, and racist violence, continued through the end of the year. Some of the victims were Muslim migrants. A court granted legal recognition to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community. The government approved, for the first time, a permit to operate a prayer house for the Supreme Council of Ethnic Greeks (YSEE). Two religious groups – an Old Calendarist and an evangelical Christian – applied to courts seeking legal recognition. Religious groups without religious entity status and no house of prayer permits were still able to function as registered nonprofit civil law organizations. The government continued to provide funding and other benefits to the Greek Orthodox Church and, to a lesser extent, the Muslim community of Thrace and the Catholic Church. Muslim leaders continued to criticize the lack of Islamic cemeteries outside of Thrace and the absence of a mosque in Athens. Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Amanatidis issued a statement on May 25 supporting the opening of an Athens mosque. GD MPs made anti-Semitic references, portraying Jewish individuals as those with the most decision-making and economic power.In January police announced the arrest of two individuals in Epirus who each accused the other of committing multiple crimes, including malicious blasphemy. In April police in Volos reported that a suspect refused to comply with police instructions. He was charged with resisting arrest, insulting an officer, and malicious blasphemy, and sentenced to a 17-month suspended prison sentence, only to be served if he repeats the offense within three years. According to police statistics, another individual in central Greece was charged with malicious blasphemy in March; additional details were not available in this case. In May, according to local press reports, coast guard officials in Rafina charged a 17-year-old with resisting arrest, criminal threats, physical injury to an officer, and malicious blasphemy. In February a soccer player was suspended for four games by the soccer association in northern Greece because he “cursed the divine.” On March 2, an appeals court annulled the 10-month sentence of a blogger convicted in 2014 of “habitual blasphemy and offense of religion” for creating a satirical page on social media mocking a dead Orthodox monk who was later proclaimed a saint. The acquittal was the result of a legal provision that cleared a backlog of misdemeanor offenses committed up until March 31, 2016.According to research conducted by the Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM), in 2016 the Hellenic (national) Police opened 254 cases for malicious blasphemy involving 328 defendants, 312 of whom were Greeks and 16 foreigners. The Hellenic Police arrested 159 of these suspects; in the vast majority of cases, malicious blasphemy was not the only charge. Additionally, in 2016 police opened 43 cases for disturbing the religious peace; 46 individuals were arrested in these cases.In October, according to GHM, authorities dropped malicious blasphemy charges against the organizers of Thessaloniki Pride after concluding that the group was not responsible for producing the poster cited in the case. In 2016 Metropolitan of Kalavryta Amvrosios and five private citizens had filed separate police complaints for malicious blasphemy and offending religion against a group of six individuals involved in the organization of the Thessaloniki Pride. The complaint centered on an unofficial version of the 2016 Thessaloniki Pride poster, which featured an artistic depiction of Jesus on a cross with the text, “He was crucified for us too.” At the end of the year, the case remained open and had been referred to the cyber police to identify the creators of the poster.The criminal trial of 69 GD party members and supporters, including 18 of its current and former MPs, continued through the end of the year, with the examination of witnesses. The charges were related to a string of attacks, including against Muslim migrants and Greeks; they included murder, conspiracy, weapons possession, and membership in a criminal organization.On April 12, the media reported that the national police took precautionary measures to protect the three Coptic churches in Athens following attacks against Copts in Egypt. Measures included adding undercover police, frequent patrolling around the churches’ locations, and contacting the churches’ leaders to urge them to establish direct communication with police if they noticed something unusual or suspicious.Early in the year a court granted legal recognition to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community as a religious entity. Two religious groups – an Old Calendarist and an evangelical Christian – applied to courts seeking legal recognition as religious entities. Rulings for these two applications were pending at year’s end.Religious groups without religious entity status and no house of prayer permits, including Scientologists and the ISKCON, were still able to function as registered nonprofit civil law organizations. The government did not legally recognize weddings conducted by members of those religious groups, whose only option was a civil marriage.The government approved permits for 18 houses of prayer, including the first prayer house for the YSEE, a polytheistic group revering the ancient Hellenic gods. The government did not deny any applications for permits during the year. The government granted 12 permits to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It also granted a permit to a group of Muslims from Bangladesh and three permits to Pentecostals. The government revoked one permit at the request of a small religious community that no longer wished to operate its house of prayer. There were no pending applications at year’s end.The government continued to provide funding for religious leaders’ salaries and other benefits to the Greek Orthodox Church and, to a lesser extent, to the Muslim community of Thrace and the Catholic Church. The government also supported seminars for teachers to raise awareness of the Holocaust among students and funding for educational visits for students to Auschwitz.The government continued to provide direct support to the Greek Orthodox Church, including for religious training of clergy and funding for religious instruction in schools. Greek Orthodox priests continued to receive their salaries from the state. Some Greek Orthodox officials stated this direct support was given in accordance with a series of legal agreements with past governments, and in exchange for religious property previously expropriated by the state. The Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs continued to partially fund retirement pensions of Orthodox monks and monitor vocational training for Orthodox clergy.The government continued to state that Muslims not part of the recognized minority created by the Treaty of Lausanne were not covered by that treaty and therefore did not have the rights related to it, such as the right to bilingual education, special quotas for university entry and jobs in the public sector, the optional use of sharia in family and inheritance matters, and optional Islamic religious classes in public schools.Some members of the Thrace Muslim community continued to object to the government’s practice of appointing muftis, pressing for direct election of muftis by the Muslim community. The government continued to state that government appointment was appropriate because the muftis had judicial powers and the constitution requires the government to appoint all judges. Academics and activists said the ability of courts in Thrace to provide judicial oversight of muftis’ decisions was limited by the lack of translation of sharia into Greek and lack of familiarity with sharia in general. On November 13, the prime minister announced the government’s plans to make the use of sharia in Thrace optional and consensual by all parties. The Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs subsequently issued a draft legislative amendment and an explanatory framework. The bill was approved in principle by the relevant parliamentary committee on December 21 and scheduled for a plenary vote after the end of the year.On November 13, the media reported that a Thessaloniki Misdemeanor Court convicted the unofficial mufti in Xanthi of impersonating a public authority and an unofficial local imam of disturbing the peace for unlawfully and violently preventing the official mufti from performing the funeral service for a Muslim soldier in Glafki village in 2016. The sentences were suspended for three years, only to be served if the defendants commit a repeat offense during this time. The defendants appealed the decision.On March 28, the minister for education, research and religions issued a decision establishing a working group on the upgrading and modernization of the muftiates in Thrace. The group comprised four employees of the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs – three from the Directorate for Religious Administration under the Secretariat General for Religions and one from the General Directorate of the ministry’s Financial Services. The minister tasked the working group with drafting an analytical report on the existing situation and compiling recommendations for operational improvements. The decision also called for assistance from other individuals, including the head of the Directorate for Minority Education and the school advisor for the minority program in minority schools, a member of the Muslim minority. The group was granted full access to all archives, information, books, and financial data kept in the muftiates, with guarantees to respect data protection laws.Some members of the Muslim minority in Thrace continued to criticize the appointment by the government, rather than the election by the Muslim community, of members entrusted with the administration of the auqafs, which oversee endowments, real estate, and charitable funds of the minority community. Muslim leaders also continued to criticize the lack of Muslim cemeteries outside of Thrace, stating this obliged Muslims to transport their dead to Thrace for Islamic burials. They also continued to state that municipal cemetery regulations requiring exhumation of bodies after three years because of shortage of space contravened Islamic religious law. Several MPs supported the Muslim leaders’ complaints. On May 19, 34 MPs from the ruling political party SYRIZA submitted a question in the parliament asking about the delayed implementation of a 2016 decision by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church, which had been made at the request of the government, to grant 20,000 square meters (215,000 square feet) inside an existing cemetery at Schisto, in greater Athens, for the burial of Muslims. The MPs also inquired about the status of a similar government proposal to the Holy Synod for the granting of land inside the cemetery of Evosmos, in Thessaloniki. At least three sites continued to be used unofficially on an ad hoc basis for the burial of Muslim migrant and asylum seekers on Lesvos Island, in Schisto, and near the land border with Turkey in Evros.At year’s end, there were still no crematories in the country. In 2016, three municipalities – Athens, Thessaloniki, and Patras – had initiated the process to establish crematories by searching for suitable land and seeking approval of the necessary municipal committees. The cities of Athens and Patras reportedly had identified suitable plots of land. The latter had also requested the issuance of a presidential decree pre-certifying the land transfer as constitutional in an effort to deter potential legal complaints.The Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs continued to have three Islamic experts assigned to offer religious services in camps hosting Muslim refugees and migrants in the region of central and eastern Macedonia. The three included an imam from Xanthi, the director of one of the two Islamic religious schools in Thrace, and a scholastic expert in Islamic law and studies. Government authorities again issued directives to managers of reception facilities hosting migrants and refugees, instructing them to alter food distribution times and the type of food served to allow Muslims to observe the Ramadan fast.A law passed by parliament on May 30 provided for the establishment of an “administrative committee for the Athens Islamic Mosque” as a nonprofit legal entity under private law, supervised by the minister of education, research and religions. Media and government sources reported progress on the construction of an official mosque in Athens, originally expected to be completed in August, but the mosque was not operational at year’s end. GD held protests against the mosque in January and throughout the year. MP Ilias Panagiotaros said at the January rally that GD would step up protests, and that “this mosque will not have a good end.”Deputy Foreign Minister Amanatidis issued a statement on May 25 supporting the opening of the Athens mosque, commenting that such a measure would allow Greeks and other EU Muslims to perform their religious duties unhindered. He encouraged to vote in favor of the draft education bill with provisions for the operation of the mosque, which he said would enhance the country’s international image with respect to human rights. Passed on May 25, the law provided for the establishment of a seven-member administrative committee for the Athens Mosque as a nonprofit legal entity under private law, to be supervised by the minister of education, research, and religions and to include at least two Muslim community representatives. Committee members were officially named on August 21 and began their work soon after. The administrative committee was tasked with selecting the imams who will preach at the mosque, de-conflicting requests from various communities to use the space, and overseeing the general administration of the property.On September 8, the Migration Ministry transferred 82 Yazidi Kurds from the Yiannitsa Migrant Center to an all-Yazidi migrant camp located at a former agricultural training facility in Serres. Yazidis at Yiannitsa had stated Syrian Sunni Arabs were harassing them because of the Yazidis’ religious beliefs. According to the NGO The Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children, as of September 7, there were 2,535 Yazidis migrants in the country, with the majority living in an open air camp at the base of Mount Olympus.On April 3, the Ministries of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs; Environment and Energy; and Culture and Sports issued a joint circular codifying the process for construction, expansion, repair, and demolition of existing or new mosques in Thrace. The government stated this codification was necessary to provide an accessible, transparent, unified, and coherent framework. Some religious groups, including Muslims, reiterated complaints from previous years that the house of prayer permit process – for example, requirements that buildings used for prayer have fire exits – constrained freedom of religion by making it difficult to find a suitable location.Central and local government authorities continued to provide public space free of charge to groups of Muslims whose members requested places of worship during Ramadan and for other religious occasions.On June 27, following discussions between the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs and the Greek Orthodox Church, the Standing Holy Synod of the Church of Greece approved guidelines provided by the ministry in 2016 on religious instruction. According to the guidelines, religious education should not be based solely on the official textbook, which primarily covers Greek Orthodox doctrine. The government stated students needed to become more familiar with other religions present in the country and the world. Some Greek Orthodox Church leaders had objected to the new guidelines, stating the government was disrespectful to the constitution and to the faith of the majority of the country’s citizens.The government continued to provide funding to the Muslim minority in Thrace to select and pay salaries of teachers of Islam in state schools and the salaries of the three official muftis and some imams, in accordance with Greece’s obligations under the Lausanne Treaty. It also continued to fund Catholic religious training and teachers’ salaries in state schools on the islands of Syros and Tinos, as well as to fund awareness raising activities and trips for non-Jewish students to Holocaust remembrance events, and for Holocaust education training for teachers.Some leaders of the recognized Muslim minority continued to press for fully bilingual kindergartens in Thrace, modeled after the already operating bilingual primary schools. Government authorities historically asserted that Greek-language kindergartens helped students to better integrate into the larger society, and that kindergarten classes are not mentioned in the Lausanne Treaty. In response to the Muslim community’s concerns, the Institute for Educational Policy, an agency supervised by the minister for education, research, and religious affairs, announced in March a plan to fund, under a pilot project, assistant teachers in kindergarten classrooms fluent in the child’s native language to facilitate the children’s integration into school life. This program had not yet begun at year’s end.Some religious groups and human rights organizations continued to state the discrepancy between the length of mandatory alternate service for conscientious objectors (15 months) and for those serving in the military (nine months) was discriminatory. Jehovah’s Witnesses reported that in several instances, government committees, tasked with examining requests for exemption from military service as conscientious objectors on religious grounds, denied requests for unbaptized members of their community. The committees, consisting of two army officials, one psychologist, and two academics, decided that unbaptized individuals, despite studying the Bible and attending sessions jointly with Jehovah’s Witnesses, “are not yet ready to fully embrace their teachings.” The committees ordered the immediate conscription of those individuals into the armed forces and did not allow the applicants to defend their cases in person to the committee.The Union of Atheists filed a complaint on August 1 with the Data Protection Authority and the ombudsman objecting to the listing of students’ religion on school transcripts; the inclusion of religion in the administrative school databases and university records; and the need for parents to officially declare and justify their request to have their children exempted from religion classes. The union argued that religious and philosophical beliefs constitute sensitive personal data and should not be recorded.GD MPs, as well as the GD official website and weekly newspaper, continued making references to conspiracy theories portraying Jewish individuals as those with the most decision-making and economic power. On October 5, GD MP Elias Panagiotaros stated during an interview on the web-based television channel “Eleftheri Ora” that nonperforming business and household loans in the country would be administered by a company headed by the President of the Jewish Community in Athens, whom he incorrectly categorized as the President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece (KIS). Panagiotaros also said the company was successful because of the Jewish community’s connections to the minister of finance.There continued to be numerous instances of anti-Semitism online. In May the European Jewish Pressestimated there were at least 48 active anti-Semitic blogs in the country and called GD, which had issued more than 30 cases of anti-Semitic speeches and multiple anti-Semitic articles, “one of the most dangerous neo-Nazi parties in Europe.”On July 18, the secretaries general for human rights and for religious affairs each independently referred the case of an excommunicated Old Calendarist monk, Father Kleomenis, to the public prosecutor, the racist crimes department of the police, and the cybercrime police department for investigation. The monk had posted a video on July 17 on social media showing him in front of the Jewish Martyrs Holocaust Monument in Larissa, cursing the Jews, denying the Holocaust, spitting, kicking, and throwing eggs at the monument, and calling for its destruction. The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church and the local Metropolitans of Larisa and Tyrnavos issued statements disassociating themselves from Kleomenis and condemning his actions. The Municipality of Larissa also issued a statement denouncing the attack. On July 19, the prosecutor in Larissa filed charges against Kleomenis and three more individuals for vandalizing the Holocaust memorial and for violating the law against racism.On May 2, GHM announced it had filed a lawsuit against Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus on hate speech grounds. GHM’s lawsuit also referred to legislation about “aggravating” conditions when a “state official” commits a hate speech offense. The lawsuit was in response to a statement Seraphim publicized on the official website of the Archdiocese of Piraeus on April 28, in which he complained he had been selected by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece to light the holy light of Easter at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, but that he was replaced because Israel declared him as persona non grata. In the statement, he quoted the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and referred to Freemasonry and other organizations as “the arms used by Zionism to secure infiltration and state manipulation.” He accused Israel of interfering with the Church’s issues. The KIS denounced Seraphim’s statement.On January 26, the minister of education, research, and religious affairs, the president of the Jewish Museum of Greece, and the president of Yad Vashdem cosigned a memorandum of understanding regarding the implementation of programs on the teaching of Holocaust. One program entailed a July 9-12 seminar for 39 public high school teachers. The seminar was organized by the Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights in cooperation with the Jewish Museum of Greece, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs.On January 27, the minister for education, research, and religious affairs unveiled in a school in Athens an honorary plaque in memory of the Greek Jewish children killed in concentration camps during World War II. During the German occupation, German troops had ordered the school’s closure, and the pupils, along with their parents, had been arrested and sent to concentration camps in central Europe. Also on January 27, the Department for Preschool Education of the University of Thessaly, the local Jewish community, and the Piraeus Bank Foundation organized an event entitled “Approaching the Holocaust in the School and in the Museum.”The head of the central board of Jewish communities, David Saltiel, welcomed the amendment passed in March allowing all descendants of deceased Greek Jews, mostly Holocaust survivors, to apply for citizenship as “a moral victory” and a “fresh step forward in the recognition of the history of the Holocaust and of Greek Jews.” The GD, the fourth largest party in the parliament, voted against the legislation.On January 21, opposition MP Adonis Georgiadis posted on social media the following announcement: “In the past I’ve coexisted with and tolerated the views of people who showed disrespect to Jewish co-patriots, and for this reason I feel the need to apologize to the Jewish Community. I feel even sorrier for supporting and promoting the book of Kostas Plevris, which is insulting for the Jews. The Holocaust of the Jewish people constitutes the greatest disgrace of our contemporary culture and its sacrifice strengthened democracy, anti-racism, and the belief in the equality and freedom of nations.”The Secretariat General for Religious Affairs funded in May an annual commemorative trip to Auschwitz for 82 high school students and 10 teachers from schools throughout the country. The students took part in a contest organized by the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs, which involved producing a video on “The Kid and the Holocaust.” Participating schools were from the Athens, Thessaloniki, Chania, Arcadia, Aetoloakarnakia, and Evrytania regions.On March 22, the minister for education, research, and religious affairs issued a statement expressing his sorrow for the damages caused to a mosque of historic significance in Thrace from a fire. The minister committed to take steps for the prompt investigation of the fire’s causes and to restore the mosque. Although no official report was made public, firefighters on the scene told local press that electric welding during restoration likely caused the fire.The Inter-Orthodox Center of the Greek Orthodox Church organized a training program under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and funded by the German government entitled, “Getting to know and teaching Judaism through the coexistence of Christians and Jews in Greece.”On September 8, in the garden of a former middle school in Thessaloniki and the location of the cultural foundation of the National Bank of Greece, a metal commemorative plate was placed in memory of 40 Jewish students sent to concentration camps in 1943.On September 27, the Aristotle University Law School, the Aristotle University School of Theology, and the Religious Studies Institute of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople organized a conference on “Church and the Constitution: The issue of Constitutional Reform.” Participants discussed Greek Orthodox Church relations with the state, including whether constitutional reform should encompass continued reference to Orthodox Christianity as the official and dominant religion; whether the state should be involved with administrative matters of the Greek Orthodox Church; whether state officials should appoint priests or determine their number; and whether the Church should be involved with civil issues it opposes, such as the cremation of the dead.From October 19-21, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs, the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, the Holocaust Memorial of the Jews in Skopje, and the Memorial de la Shoah in Paris, organized a training seminar on Holocaust education. The seminar, entitled “The Holocaust as a Starting Point: Comparing and Sharing” involved 40 teachers.On October 29 and 30, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized for the second time an international summit on the protection of religious communities and civilizations in the Middle East, hosted by the minister of foreign affairs, with the participation of the Archbishop of Athens and all Greece, several Greek Orthodox metropolitans, representatives of Jewish, Catholic, Protestant communities from abroad, and two Muslim muftis from Thrace.

Section III. Status of Societal Respect for Religious Freedom

Summary paragraph: Incidents of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim discrimination and hate speech, including against immigrants, continued. The Racist Violence Recording Network and the GHM reported several incidents of vandalism against religious property, including Holocaust memorials and a Greek Orthodox church. Jehovah’s Witnesses reported instances of societal discrimination when preaching or while distributing and displaying information and religious material in public. On October 23, hundreds of demonstrators, including members of parents and ecclesiastical associations, theologians, and clergy, nuns, and monks, gathered outside the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs to protest against the reforms to the government-mandated religious course. The protestors objected to five new chapters referring to Judaism and Islam.

Police statistics for 2016, the most recent year available, showed 84 potentially racially motivated incidents, 24 of which were believed to be linked to the victim’s religion. On September 28, the Ministry of Education published a report on acts against religious sites in 2016. According to the report, there were 209 incidents against Christian sites including vandalism, robberies, and arson attacks. The previous year the ministry recorded 147 such incidents. All targeted Greek Orthodox churches and cemeteries, except one incident against a Catholic site.

The report also recorded five incidents of vandalism against Jewish sites and one against a Muslim site.

The linking of “international Zionism” with alleged plans for the “country’s Islamization,” that was related to the ongoing construction of an official mosque in Athens, continued on ultranationalist blogs. During a May 21 protest, a group of Old Calendarist Orthodox followers, opposing the building of the mosque, chanted anti-Islamic and anti-Semitic slogans such as, “Islam out” and “Resist the plans of Jewish Zionists who want you servants in the world empire of the anti-Christ.”

On May 3, the Heinrich Boell Foundation, in cooperation with the Seat for Jewish Studies at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, presented a study on anti-Semitism in Greece. The study showed that despite the small percentage of Jews in the country (approximately 0.05 percent) vandalism recorded against Jewish monuments and sites was proportionally higher than vandalism directed at other religious groups. The study found more than six out of 10 Greeks held anti-Semitic attitudes. Sixty-five percent of respondents in the study’s questionnaire “agreed” or “absolutely agreed” with the statements “Jews have been using the Holocaust to receive better treatment from the international decision-making centers” and “Israel treats Palestinians exactly like Nazis did the Jews.” When asked whether “Jews enjoy much greater power in the world of business,” more than 92 percent of respondents “agreed” or “absolutely agreed.” According to the findings, 64.3 percent of those surveyed believed that the proposed Holocaust Museum in Thessaloniki should be built by private funding, while 72.1 percent of respondents believed a Pontian (Greek-Russian) refugee museum should be built with government funding. The survey also indicated a large percentage of individuals were indifferent to the concept of a Holocaust museum and 11.3 percent opposed the idea altogether. The mayor of Thessaloniki said he was concerned about how to ensure future operating costs, given societal indifference to and rejection of the project.

Some metropolitan bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church made anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim statements and statements against Jehovah’s Witnesses in public letters and on social media, while others said Catholicism was heresy. On June 15, in a letter addressed to Metropolitan of Argolida, the Metropolitan of Gortynia in the Peloponnese stated Orthodox followers believed that Catholicism and ecumenism were heresies and that Christians should stay away from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The KIS continued to voice concerns about anti-Semitic comments by some journalists in the media and some Greek Orthodox Church leaders. The KIS also reiterated its concerns that political cartoons and images in the media mocked political controversies through the use of Jewish sacred symbols and comparisons to the Holocaust or through drawing parallels among “Jews,” “Zionists,” and “Nazis,” equating the first with the latter. On May 16, the KIS denounced journalist and cartoonist Stathis (Stavropoulos) for his May 10 article published on the news site “” The article, entitled “In Bloody Ink,” stated it is impossible to criticize Israel because doing so would be interpreted as anti-Semitism. The article included a cartoon depicting Israel killing free opinion.

On an Alpha television channel morning show on January 12, journalist Dimos Verykios stated, “Global finance is concentrated in three centers: they are actually dominating the planet. One center is the banks, the global banking system. Through this banking system, two main centers are ruling the game. One of these centers is the Jewish lobby, powerful, extremely powerful in America and elsewhere! In all big deals, one will meet a Jew! Or a Mason!”

Academics, activists, and journalists stated the Greek Orthodox Church continued to exercise significant social, political, and economic influence. Members of non-Orthodox religious groups reported incidents of societal discrimination, including being told by Orthodox followers that they were “heretics” or “not truly Greek.” Jehovah’s Witnesses reported incidents of societal discrimination while preaching or when distributing informational and religious material in Athens and in other cities. In five separate cases, the excommunicated Old Calendarist monk, Father Kleomenis, attacked and completely destroyed Jehovah’s Witnesses’ information carts. Kleomenis’ partners filmed the incidents for later posting on social media. The Jehovah’s Witnesses in response asked for police intervention. Charges were pending but no hearing had taken place by year’s end.

On March 30, the KIS reported vandalism of the Holocaust monument in Arta, western Greece, noting that the incident happened “only a few days after the remembrance events organized by the municipality of Arta for the deportation and extermination of the city’s Jews in the Nazi concentration camps.”

On June 27, an anarchist group called “Nuclear FAI-IRF” set fire to Saint Basil Church in central Athens. In its statement claiming responsibility, the group cited “the sexism that the Church perpetuates, the Church’s opposition to homosexuality, and the fact that Christianity treats bodily satisfaction and sexuality as non-sacred” as reasons for the attack. The group also stated it “deliberately targeted a profitable business, as the Church owns land and untaxed wealth which is hidden behind charities to supposedly promote its humanist profile.” On August 3, anarchists threw paint on the exterior walls of Saint Basil Church and broke the windows of the nearby Zoodochou Pigi Church. There was no government reaction to any of these incidents. The main opposition party, New Democracy, issued a statement accusing the government of treating anarchists in a lenient way.

On July 7, human rights activists reported on social media that unknown perpetrators had vandalized the Athens Holocaust monument by writing with a marker “Hi, my name is death!” On July 11, police reported the arrest of four male individuals for shattering the marble facade of the Holocaust monument in Kavala in the northern part of the country on March 30. By April 5, the city of Kavala had restored the monument. The city of Kavala, government officials, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and various political parties condemned the attack.

On September 15, the media reported on the application filed by a parent in Mytilene, Lesvos, requesting his child be exempted from the teaching of certain chapters of the restructured course of religious teaching in the official curriculum. The parent listed five chapters referring to Judaism and Islam, stating that the content “did not match his family’s religious beliefs” and objecting to the teaching of “prayers from other religious traditions” to his child. According to media, several parents in other schools also filed similar requests, and they returned the course’s new folder and book to the Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs as “unacceptable.” On October 23, hundreds of demonstrators, including members of parents and ecclesiastical associations, theologians, clergymen, nuns and monks, gathered outside the headquarters of the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religions to protest against the new way the religious course was taught, arguing it was unconstitutional, anti-Orthodox, and antipedagogical.

On September 24, vandals desecrated a large banner advertising a cultural event in Thessaloniki entitled “Sacred Places” and bearing the symbols of the Jewish star, Muslim crescent, and Christian cross. The banner was spray-painted with the slogan “Jews Out,” and the Jewish star was ripped in half. The perpetrator was not identified by year’s end.

On December 1, unknown vandals stripped the inscriptions from two of the panels on the Athens Holocaust memorial. The secretary general for religious affairs and the city of Athens “’strongly condemned the attack.”’ The city of Athens said it would contribute to the monument’s restoration.

Section IV. U.S. Government Policy and Engagement

The Ambassador, visiting officials, and embassy and consulate representatives met with officials and representatives from the Ministry of Education, Research, and Religious Affairs, including the minister of education and the secretary general for religious affairs. They discussed access for minority communities to establish houses of worship, and government initiatives that affect the Muslim minority in Thrace and immigrants. U.S. officials expressed concerns about anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim acts and rhetoric.

On September 7, the Consul General in Thessaloniki visited a new Yazidi Kurd migrant camp in Seres, in which the government segregated the Yazidis from other migrant groups for their protection.

Embassy officials met with religious leaders, including the archbishop and other representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as members of the Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Bahai, Mormon, and Jehovah’s Witness communities to promote interfaith dialogue, religious tolerance, and diversity, as well as to express concern about anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim acts and rhetoric. Through these meetings, the embassy monitored the ability of religious minority groups to freely practice their religion and the extent of societal discrimination against both indigenous religious minorities and newly arrived migrants from religious minorities. The embassy sponsored two participants for a U.S. government exchange program on minority migrant integration and tolerance. The embassy also promoted religious tolerance via social media, using several platforms to promote the Ambassador’s remarks at the Conference on Religious Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East, in which he emphasized tolerance, cultural and religious pluralism, and peaceful coexistence.

The Ambassador met with representatives from the Greek Orthodox Church, including Patriarch Bartholomew, Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki, Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, Metropolitan Iakovos of Lesvos, Metropolitan Markos of Chios, Metropolitan Dorotheos of Syros, and Deputy Metropolitan of Rhodes Ioannis. In all meetings with religious leaders and other members of the communities, the Ambassador discussed the role of the Greek Orthodox Church in responding to the needs of 49,000 asylum-seekers, mostly from Muslim-majority countries, remaining in Greece. The Ambassador also discussed with Greek Orthodox leaders the importance of religious tolerance and dialogue.

In March an embassy official met with Greek Orthodox and Catholic leaders on the island of Syros to emphasize the importance of interfaith dialogue and religious tolerance. On August 17, the Ambassador met separately with the local Orthodox Metropolitan and the former Roman Catholic Bishop in Syros, discussing the communities’ peaceful coexistence and mutual acceptance.

On July 10, the Ambassador delivered opening remarks on the Holocaust in Greece to 39 public school teachers at a seminar on teaching about the Holocaust. In his remarks he emphasized tolerance. The Ministry of Education, in cooperation with the Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies, organized the seminar.

The Ambassador also met with representatives from the Athens and Thessaloniki Jewish communities, and the president and curator of the Jewish Museum in Athens, to discuss preserving Jewish history in Greece, combating anti-Semitism, and other concerns of the community. On January 27, the Ambassador laid a wreath at the Holocaust Monument in Athens in honor of the Day of Commemoration of the Greek-Jewish Martyrs and Heroes of the Holocaust.

The Thessaloniki Consul General participated in Holocaust Memorial ceremonies in Larissa, a wreath-laying in Hortiatis village, the National Day of Remembrance of the Greek Victims of the Holocaust in Thessaloniki, the Memorial Holocaust Walk in Thessaloniki, and a Holocaust Memorial event at the Thessaloniki Synagogue. On April 24, the Thessaloniki Consul General and her staff briefed members of the Jewish community and others about the killing by the Nazis of David Tiano, a Greek staff member of the consulate, and the need to never forget the Holocaust. She highlighted the new Human Rights and Holocaust Memorial Museum to break ground in 2018. In June the Thessaloniki Consul General attended a dinner to honor the longest living Thessalonikian Jew, Heinz Kounio, who survived the concentration camps.

In September the Thessaloniki Consul General attended a panel discussion at an exhibition which highlighted mixed religious communities that have coexisted throughout history. In her remarks, the Consul General highlighted the importance of societal respect of the freedom to worship.

On October 30, the Ambassador delivered introductory remarks for a video message from the special advisor for religious minorities in the Near East and South/Central Asia at the Second Athens International Conference on Religious and Cultural Pluralism and Peaceful Coexistence in the Middle East. In his introduction, the Ambassador highlighted the role religious freedom plays in combatting instability, human rights abuses, and religious extremism. The special advisor’s videotaped remarks further commented on the importance of protecting religious diversity.

30/05/2018: Μήνυση για (άλλη μία) ισλαμοφοβική ανάρτηση Ανδρέα Ανδριανόπουλου βασισμένη σε fake news

30 Μαΐου 2018




Το Vice επισημαίνει σήμερα ανάρτηση του Ανδρέα Ανδιανόπουλου “ο οποίος ουκ ολίγες φορές έχει εκφράσει στο Twitter τις αντι-ισλαμικές απόψεις του,” όπως επισημάινει ο συντάκτης Θοδωρής Χονδρόγιαννος. Σε αυτή παρουσιάζει σκηνή από τηλεοπτική παραγωγή ως δήθεν εμγανίζουσα πρόσφυγα από τη Συρία, για να αναφέρει δύο ψευδή γεγονότα, δηλαδή πως γενικά όλοι οι πρόσφυγες από τη Συρία είναι “σουνίτες” και πως όλοι τους είναι οπαδοί του “Ισλαμικού Κράτους” άρα τρομοκράτες, γεγονός εξόχως ρατσιστικό (παράβαση του Ν. 927/79) απέναντι στους Σύριους πρόσφυγες συλλήβδην. Αξιοσημείωτο είναι πως, όπως αναφέρεται στο άρθρο, τον ίδο ισλαμοφοβικό ισχυρισμό με βάση την ίδια fake news είχε κάνει το ακροδεξιό, ισλαμοφοβικό κόμμα AfD στη Γερμανία, από όπου πιθανότατα άντλησε την είδηση ισλαμόφοβος Έλληνας ακροδεξιός (με ψευδώνυμο “Ο τολμών νικά”) του οποίου την ανάρτηση υιοθέτησε ο ισλαμόφοβος Ανδρέας Ανδριανόπουλος.

Παρακαλούμε για τις ενέργειές σας καθώς και να μας ενημερώσετε για τον αριθμό πρωτοκόλλου που θα δώσετε στη μήνυση αυτή.


Με τιμή

Παναγιώτης Δημητράς – Panayote Dimitras
Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι – Greek Helsinki Monitor
address: PO Box 60820 – GR 15304 Glyka Nera Greece


Τα Fake News Πήγαν σε Άλλο Επίπεδο με τη Φωτογραφία «Προσφυγόπουλου», που Τελικά Ήταν Ηθοποιός του Netflix - VIC

εκφράσει στο Twitter τις αντι-ισλαμικές απόψεις του. Ωστόσο, αυτήν τη φορά βιάστηκε να ποστάρει και μάλλον εκτέθηκε.

Τα Fake News Πήγαν σε Άλλο Επίπεδο με τη Φωτογραφία «Προσφυγόπουλου», που Τελικά Ήταν Ηθοποιός του Netflix - VICΤα Fake News Πήγαν σε Άλλο Επίπεδο με τη Φωτογραφία «Προσφυγόπουλου», που Τελικά Ήταν Ηθοποιός του Netflix - VIC

την ίδια φωτογραφία, όπως την έχει ποστάρει ο Vittorio Vito Pirbazari στον προσωπικό λογαριασμό του στο Instagram, όπου αναφέρει: «#dogsofberlin

Τα Fake News Πήγαν σε Άλλο Επίπεδο με τη Φωτογραφία «Προσφυγόπουλου», που Τελικά Ήταν Ηθοποιός του Netflix - VIC

29/05/2017: Ρατσιστικό FB post Χριστίνας Σιδέρη με αφορμή, κατηγορούμενους για βιασμό, γονείς στη Λέρο

Ρατσιστικό FB post της Χριστίνας Σιδέρη (πρώην στελέχους της ΝΔ) στις 29 Μαΐου 2018, όπου προσδίδει αλβανική και ρουμάνικη καταγωγή στους γονείς που κατηγορούνται πως κακοποιούσαν σεξουαλικά τα παιδιά τους στη Λέρο και συνελήφθησαν στις 27 Μαΐου 2018 -ενώ κάτι τέτοιο δεν έχει αναφερθεί πουθενά παρά και την τεράστια δημοσιότητα της υπόθεσης- για να καταλήξει σε ακραία ρατσιστική γενίκευση περί πλήρως ατεκμηρίωτης γενικευμένης ειδεχθούς εγκληματικότητας αλλοδαπών σε βάρος παιδιών:

FireShot Capture 083 - Χριστίνα Σιδέρη _ Kristine Sideris _ - https___www.facebook.com_permalink.php.jpg

29/05/2018: Μήνυση για ρατσιστικό μισαλλόδοξο άρθρο Θέμου Αναστασιάδη σε βάρος Αλβανών

Μήνυση για ρατσιστικό μισαλλόδοξο άρθρο Θέμου Αναστασιάδη σε βάρος Αλβανών 29-5-2018-1Μήνυση για ρατσιστικό μισαλλόδοξο άρθρο Θέμου Αναστασιάδη σε βάρος Αλβανών 29-5-2018-2

Επικαιροποίηση 30 Μαΐου 2018

Τα ελληνικά ΜΜΕ αποσιώπησαν τη μήνυση, σε αντίθεση με τα αλβανικά ΜΜΕ όπου υπάρχουν δεκάδες σχετικές αναρτήσεις προσβάσιμες από τα λινκς:ë+Greqi,&client=opera&hs=QOg&tbs=qdr:d&ei=AnsOW4b9MuGF6ATT_JPIAg&start=0&sa=N&biw=1048&bih=506 και

29/05/2018: Ακραία ρατσιστικά σχόλια στο FB κατά του μετανάστη που έσωσε 4χρονο αγοράκι στη Γαλλία

Ακραία ρατσιστικά σχόλια στο FB κατά του 22χρονου μετανάστη Μαντούμου Γκασάμα που έσωσε 4χρονο αγοράκι στη Γαλλία, στις 29 Μαίου 2018. Το πιο “προχωρημένο” που τον λέει μαϊμού και κλέφτη (πρώτη απάντηση στο πρώτο σχόλιο), ανήκει σε, κατά δήλωσή του, Έλληνα μετανάστη στη Γερμανία (εργαζόμενο στο Ντίσελντορφ, στην εταιρία “Erbslöh AG (WKW-Group)“)

FireShot Capture 066 - (2) Λόγια Μεγάλων Προσωπικοτήτων - Δη_ - https___web.facebook.com_logiamega.jpg

FireShot Capture 068 - (1) Vaggelis Dimas_ - https___web.facebook.com_EvaggelosDimas_about


24/5/2018: Χρυσή Αυγή κατά ΕΠΣΕ για “βιομηχανία διώξεων με βάση τον αντιρατσιστικό νόμο”

Βιομηχανία διώξεων με βάση τον «αντιρατσιστικό» της ΝΔ: Νέος στόχος η ιδεολογική επιθεώρηση «Μαίανδρος»! – Πέμπτη, 24 Μαΐου 2018 – 19:30
Βιομηχανία διώξεων με βάση τον «αντιρατσιστικό» της ΝΔ: Νέος στόχος η ιδεολογική επιθεώρηση «Μαίανδρος»!

Νέα δίωξη με βάση τον «αντιρατσιστικό» νόμο σχεδιάζει ο Δημητράς του «Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι», αυτή τη φορά στοχεύοντας την ιδεολογική επιθεώρηση «Μαίανδρος»
 και την ποινικοποίηση της λέξεως «λαθρομετανάστες».

Η δίωξη αυτή που απευθύνεται προς τον εκδότη του εντύπου, Συναγωνιστή Δημήτριο Βλαχόπουλο, αναφέρεται στο 14ο τεύχος του περιοδικού «Μαίανδρος» και συγκεκριμένα στο οπισθόφυλλο του εν λόγω τεύχους.


Η τραγελαφική κατηγορία, η οποία αποτυπώνεται στο έγγραφο που επιδόθηκε λέει ότι η λέξη «λαθρομετανάστες» συνιστά… ρητορική μίσους, ασχέτως που αυτή την έκφραση χρησιμοποιεί και η αστυνομία στα σχετικά Δελτία της, ότι ο υποσιτισμός των ελληνόπουλων είναι… fake news, ότι μία παράθεση του Δραγούμη συνιστά «προτροπή σε βία» και ότι το οπισθόφυλλο του τεύχους «στοχοποιεί» ανήλικο προσφυγόπουλο.


Όπως αναφέρει χαρακτηριστικό στο κείμενο της μηνυτήριας αναφορά «η εικονογράφηση του εξωφύλλου (εμπρός και πίσω) είναι ενδεικτική. Σας δείχνουμε το εξώφυλλο (εμπρός και πίσω) και προχωράμε:


Πάρτε και την αυθεντική φωτογραφία του «ανήλικου προσφυγόπουλου» που υποτίθεται ότι «στοχοποιήθηκε» από την αμερικανική Huffington Post.
Ο «αντιρατσιστικός» νόμος της ΝΔ ολοένα και περισσότερο αποδεικνύεται ως ένα πολυχρηστικό εργαλείο άσκησης λογοκρισίας εναντίον των φωνών που είναι ενάντια στην δικτατορία της παγκοσμιοποίησης. Είναι εξόχως ασαφής, ώστε να δίνει το έναυσμα στον κάθε δικομανή για να τον χρησιμοποιήσει, αλλά παράλληλα έχει αποδειχτεί και άκρως αναποτελεματικός.


Η Χρυσή Αυγή έχει βρεθεί ήδη μια φορά στο στόχαστρο του εν λόγω νομοθετήματος με έωλες κατηγορίες, οι οποίες κατέπεσαν στο δικαστήριο, ενώ στην ακροαματική διαδικασία ο μάρτυρας κατηγορίας αστυνομικός παραδέχτηκε ευθέως ότι ο μόνος θιγόμενος ήταν η «πολιτική ορθότητα».


Παράλληλα, στο στόχαστρο έχουν βρεθεί και διάφοροι άλλοι, μεταξύ των οποίων και «προοδευτικοί», οι οποίοι υπέστησαν την βάσανο της ακροαματικής διαδικασίας απλώς και μόνο για να ικανοποιηθεί η ανάγκη κάποιων. Και, βεβαίως, γεννάται αυθορμήτως το ερώτημα: Δεν θα έπρεπε να τιμωρείται κάποιος που διαρκώς μηνύει κόσμο, ο οποίος αθωώνεται;


Όσον αφορά την υπόθεση της ιδεολογικής επιθεωρήσεως «Μαίανδρος», πρόκειται για άλλη μία έωλη κατηγορία που θα καταπέσει με πάταγο στο ακροατήριο ή (αν υπάρχει τσίπα) δεν θα φτάσει καν σε αυτό.


Μέχρι τότε, επαναλαμβάνουμε την ρήση του Δραγούμη, παραθέτοντας και τα απαραίτητα βιβλιογραφικά στοιχεία γιατί στην έγκλησή του ο Δημητράς την αποκαλεί «δήθεν». Να τον βοηθήσουμε να μαθαίνει και τίποτα.


“Μᾶς φτάνουν πιὰ οἱ μάρτυρες· χρειάζονται τώρα ἥρωες. Γενῆτε ἥρωες!” Ί. Δραγούμης, Μαρτύρων και ηρώων αίμα, Αθήνα, χ.έ., 1914 (β΄ έκδοση), σσ. 83−93

Το απόσπασμα της μηνυτήριας αναφοράς του ΕΠΣΕ (02/11/2017: Μηνυτήρια αναφορά 70 ρατσιστικών εγκλημάτων Νοεμβρίου 2016 – Μαρτίου 2017)
για το συγκεκριμένο ρατσιστικό κείμενο:

15/01/2017: Η απροκάλυπτη στοχοποίηση ανηλίκων προέχει της ρητορικής μίσους και της διασποράς ψευδών ειδήσεων -από τον “Μαίανδρο”, τεύχος 14


Επίσημη ιδεολογική θέση του εντύπου ΜΑΙΑΝΔΡΟΣ (τεύχος 14, 27.12.2016) γίνεται η στοχοποίηση ανηλίκων. Η ρητορική μίσους (“λαθρομετανάστες”) και η διασπορά ψευδών ειδήσεων (υποσιτισμός ελληνόπουλων, ευημερία προσφύγων κλπ.) περνούν σε δεύτερη μοίρα. Η εικονογράφηση του εξωφύλλου (εμπρός και πίσω) είναι ενδεικτική. Τα επεξηγηματικά κείμενα στο οπισθόφυλλο έρχονται να την ενισχύσουν: το πάνω κείμενο γράφει για το ελληνόπουλο που κινδυνεύει από την ύπαρξη του προσφυγόπουλου ενώ το κάτω κείμενο, αφενός, με την επιφωνηματική χρήση του σύνδεσμου “λοιπόν” και, αφετέρου, την επίκληση (δήθεν) γνωμικού του Ι. Δραγούμη προτρέπει σε ηρωϊκές πράξεις για τη διάσωση του γένους – και ο νοών νοείτω.




24/05/2018: Άρση ασυλίας Νικολόπουλου για ομοερωτοφοβικό κείμενο, μετά από αναφορά του ΕΠΣΕ

Η Ολομέλεια της Βουλής, στις 24 Μαΐου 2018, αποφάσισε την άρση ασυλίας του ανεξάρτητου βουλευτή Νίκου Νικολόπουλου ώστε να ασκηθεί δίωξη εναντίον του για ομοερωτοφοβικό κείμενο, το οποίο είχε αναφέρει στην Εισαγγελία Ρατσιστικής Βίας στην Αθήνα το Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελίσνκι (ΕΠΣΕ). Αναλυτική αναφορά στην υπόθεση υπάρχει στο “16/05/2018: Προτείνεται άρση ασυλίας Νικολόπουλου για ομοερωτοφοβικό κείμενο, μετά από αναφορά του ΕΠΣΕ.”

H απόφαση της Βουλής πάρθηκε με 127 θετικές ψήφους, 26 κατά (20 βουλευτές/ριες του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ – μεταξύ των οποίων οι Θόδωρος Δρίτσας και Γιάννης Τσιρώνης) και 4 «παρών» (όλοι/ες ΣΥΡΙΖΑ). Τα αποτελέσματα της ψηφοφορίας:

Πράξη: Δημόσια υποκίνηση βίας ή μίσους δια του τύπου (άρθρο 1 του ν. 4285/2014 σε συνδ. με τα άρθρα. 1, 2, 47, του α.ν. 1092/1938, ως το άρθρο  47 αντικαταστάθηκε με το άρθρο  9 παρ. 2 του ν. 1738/1987 και διατηρήθηκε σε ισχύ με το άρθρο μόνο παρ. 1 του ν. 2243/1994 και άρθρο μόνο παρ. 2, 3 του ν. 1178/1981) (ΣΥΝΟΛΙΚΑ ΨΗΦΟΙ: NAI:127, OXI:26, ΠΡΝ:4)

Τα πρακτικά της σχετικής συνεδρίασης της Βουλής:

Η πρώτη υπόθεση αφορά τον συνάδελφο κ. Νικόλαο Νικολόπουλο. Η δεύτερη υπόθεση αφορά τον συνάδελφο κ. Νικήτα Κακλαμάνη.
Επί της πρώτης αιτήσεως υπάρχει συνάδελφος που ζητά τον λόγο, κατά το άρθρο 108 του Κανονισμού;
ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΛΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ: Κύριε Πρόεδρε, εγώ θα ήθελα τον λόγο.
ΠΡΟΕΔΡΕΥΩΝ (Δημήτριος Καμμένος): Ορίστε, λοιπόν, κύριε Νικολόπουλε, έχετε τον λόγο για πέντε λεπτά.
ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΛΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ: Πρόεδρε της Βουλής, κύριε Νικόλαε Βούτση, κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, δεν είναι η πρώτη φορά που καλούμαι να λογοδοτήσω για την ελεύθερη, πλην νομικά ακόλαστη, έκφραση των απόψεών μου πάντοτε εντός των πλαισίων της κοινοβουλευτικής μου ιδιότητας. Όμως, είναι η πρώτη φορά που ένα τέτοιο ζήτημα φτάνει στην Ολομέλεια, αφού έως σήμερα πρυτάνευε η λογική και η επίκληση του Συντάγματος, κρίνοντας ότι δεν υπάρχει ζήτημα άρσης ασυλίας ενός Βουλευτή επειδή εκφράζει τα «πιστεύω» του και διακηρύττει τις απόψεις του.
Πριν από λίγους μήνες, εδώ στην ίδια Αίθουσα, για τον ίδιο λόγο, διακόσιοι εβδομήντα επτά Βουλευτές είπατε ότι δεν πρέπει να αρθεί η ασυλία μου και είκοσι τρεις είπαν ότι πρέπει.
Έχω την άποψη ότι οι συνάδελφοι της Επιτροπής Δεοντολογίας αυτή τη φορά –και τους το είπα κατά τη συνεδρίαση, ενώπιόν τους δηλαδή- δεν έδωσαν μεγάλη βαρύτητα στην ουσία της υπόθεσης. Την προσπέρασαν εύκολα και με την απόφασή τους μάλλον δεν κατάλαβαν ότι ανοίγουν τον δρόμο για την ποινικοποίηση στο δικαίωμα λόγων και απόψεων των Βουλευτών, κάτι που δεν έχει σχέση μόνο με εμένα, τις απόψεις μου και τη δική μου υπόθεση. Φοβάμαι πως αν η σημερινή διαδικασία κατατείνει στην παραπομπή μου, όλοι σας, άσχετα με το αν συμφωνείτε ή διαφωνείτε με εμένα και τις απόψεις μου, μπορεί να μετατραπείτε σε εν δυνάμει θύματα οποιουδήποτε διαφωνεί με τις απόψεις σας και με σκοπιμότητα ή όχι ζητά την άρση της ασυλίας σας.
Προσωπικά αρνούμαι να κάμψω τη συνείδηση και τις αρχές μου επειδή κάποιοι διαφωνούν μαζί μου, πόσω μάλλον όταν ο συγκεκριμένος δημόσιος λόγος μου όχι μόνο δεν καταφέρθηκε κατά κάποιου πολίτη, αλλά ουδέποτε προκάλεσε ή υποκίνησε οποιαδήποτε ρατσιστικό μίσος, κάτι που συνιστά και τον προστατευτικό σκοπό του νομοθέτη.
Έβλεπα πριν από λίγο ότι ήταν εδώ ο εμπνευστής του νομοσχεδίου, ο κ. Μπάμπης Αθανασίου, αλλά λείπει τώρα.
Πολλές φορές έχω πει δημόσια -και το λέω και τώρα- ότι σέβομαι και τιμώ κάθε ανθρώπινο πρόσωπο, ανεξάρτητα τι πιστεύει και ποιες σεξουαλικές προτιμήσεις έχει. Όμως, διαφωνώ κάθετα με όσους θέλουν να επιβάλουν τη δική τους αντίληψη και συμπεριφορά σε εμένα και στο σύνολο της ελληνικής κοινωνίας.
Επίσης, με κάθε ειλικρίνεια τονίζω ότι θα με βρίσκει αντίθετο κάθε θεωρία που αντίκειται στη χριστιανική ευαγγελική διδασκαλία, το ήθος και τις παραδόσεις του λαού μας. Εννοείται ότι θα μείνω υπέρμαχος του γάμου ως μυστήριο της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας μεταξύ ανδρός και γυναικός. Εννοείται ότι θα εξακολουθώ να μάχομαι και να στηρίζω την παραδοσιακή οικογένεια. Είναι απόψεις που απηχούν τους Έλληνες Χριστιανοδημοκράτες που εκπροσωπώ στο Κοινοβούλιο, καθώς –νομίζω- και τη συντριπτική πλειοψηφία της ελληνικής κοινωνίας, μιας κοινωνίας που δεν ξιφουλκεί σε βάρος όσων υποστηρίζουν άλλες θεωρίες και έχουν άλλες απόψεις, αλλά δεν μπορεί και να υποκύπτει στις απόψεις των άλλων, χωρίς να εκφέρει τις δικές της.
Αναρωτιέμαι, κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, αν είναι ποτέ δυνατόν σε ένα δημοκρατικό καθεστώς ένας Χριστιανός Βουλευτής να πρέπει να πάψει δημόσια να διακινεί τον λόγο του Ευαγγελίου και να του απαγορευθεί να προβάλλει τις θέσεις του και να συμμετέχει στη διαπάλη των ιδεών και στην αντιπαράθεση των επιχειρημάτων. Αναρωτιέμαι αν στη θέση μου ήταν ένας Μουσουλμάνος Βουλευτής –και βλέπω τώρα στην Αίθουσα έναν καλό συνάδελφο Μουσουλμάνο- η παρούσα Βουλή -πείτε μου- ή κάποιος από εμάς θα τολμούσε να πει στον συνάδελφό μας «Πάψε εσύ να λες όσα λέει το ιερό Κοράνι και όσα υποστηρίζει η δική σου θρησκεία για την ομοφυλοφιλία»;
Εάν είναι δημοκρατικά ορθό να διώκονται, κύριε Γεωργαντά, και οι απόψεις τους, τότε και στην περίπτωση του ορθόδοξου Βουλευτή Νίκου Νικολόπουλου που ομολογεί και διακηρύττει την αλήθεια του Ευαγγελίου, τότε, ναι, με την ψήφο σας στείλτε τον στη δικαιοσύνη να αποφασίσει αυτή για το δίκαιο ή το άδικό του και αφήστε τη Βουλή και τους Βουλευτές ευάλωτους σε κάθε κατηγορία που αντίκειται στις πεποιθήσεις και τα ιδανικά τους. Με κάθε ειλικρίνεια λέω ότι έχω απεριόριστη εμπιστοσύνη στη δικαιοσύνη, αλλά το θέμα που θέτω είναι αμιγώς πολιτικό, ζήτημα δημοκρατίας και κοινοβουλευτικής ελευθερίας.
Κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, πριν μερικές ημέρες αθωώθηκε πανηγυρικά η συγγραφέας Σώτη Τριανταφύλλου για απόψεις της, με βάση τον αντιρατσιστικό νόμο. Σας ενημερώνω ότι τη δίωξή της επεζήτησε ο ίδιος άνθρωπος και η ίδια παρέα που ζητά και τη δική μου. Είναι το πρόσωπο που μαζί με μια μικρή παρέα έχουν προσφύγει πολλές φορές εναντίον της χώρας μας στο Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο και έχουν ήδη προβεί σε τριάντα τέσσερις μηνύσεις για τον αντιρατσιστικό νόμο, προσπαθώντας να επιβάλουν τη δική τους άποψη και θέση στην ελληνική κοινωνία. Αυτοί έχουν το δικαίωμα να είναι ετεροφοβικοί, ομομανιακοί. Αυτοί έχουν το δικαίωμα να λένε και να κάνουν ό,τι θέλουν και καλώς το έχουν. Όλοι εμείς οι άλλοι, πολίτες και Βουλευτές, δεν έχουμε αυτό το δικαίωμα;
(Στο σημείο αυτό κτυπάει το κουδούνι λήξεως του χρόνου ομιλίας του κυρίου Βουλευτή)
Την ανοχή σας τελειώνω, κύριε Πρόεδρε.
Κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, προσωπικά δεν κρύφτηκα ποτέ. Το ξέρετε. Είμαι πολλά χρόνια εδώ. Είτε μέσα στην Εξεταστική Επιτροπή είτε μέσα στη Βουλή εδώ, δεν έκρυψα ούτε τις απόψεις μου, ούτε ποιος είμαι, ούτε τι εκπροσωπώ. Αισθάνομαι, όμως, ότι κάποιοι, όχι εντός της Αιθούσης, επιδιώκουν παύση χριστιανισμού. Και εγώ κρυπτοχριστιανός δεν μπορώ να γίνω τώρα στα γεράματα, για να μην κινδυνεύω με μηνύσεις από οποιονδήποτε νομίζει ότι διά της δικαστικής απειλής θα εκβιάσει και θα κάμψει συνειδήσεις.
Αρνούμαι, λοιπόν, πλήρως τη σε βάρος μου μηνυτήρια αναφορά και τους ισχυρισμούς της. Η δήθεν παράνομη συμπεριφορά μου, επειδή μπορεί να μην προλάβατε να δείτε και το υπόμνημα που έστειλα προσωπικά στον καθένα σας, συνίσταται στην εκ μέρους μου απλή ανάρτηση ενός πρωτοσέλιδου δημοσιεύματος καθημερινής αθηναϊκής εφημερίδας στην προσωπική μου ιστοσελίδα και στην ιστοσελίδα του Χριστιανοδημοκρατικού Κόμματος, του οποίου είμαι εκλεγμένος Πρόεδρος και Βουλευτής.
Πρόκειται για ένα κείμενο που όποιος το δει και το διαβάσει από τη μηνυτήρια αναφορά θα καταλάβει ότι δεν εμπεριέχει υβριστικούς ή συκοφαντικούς χαρακτηρισμούς. Θα καταλάβει ότι δεν αποτελεί καμιά εκ μέρους μου άμεση ή έμμεση προτροπή σε τέλεση πράξεων μίσους ή βίας και μάλιστα κατά τρόπο που να εκθέτει σε κίνδυνο τη δημόσια τάξη ή να ενέχει απειλή για τη ζωή, την ελευθερία ή τη σωματική ακεραιότητα των μηνυτών ή οποιουδήποτε άλλου προσώπου, όπως ο νόμος ρητά καθορίζει. Επίσης, θα διαπιστώσει όποιος από εσάς μπει στον κόπο ότι εκτός από το ψήφισμα Λούνατσεκ ατόφιο, όπως είναι, εμπεριέχει και αποσπάσματα από δημοσιευθέν άρθρο της εφημερίδος «Ελεύθερος Τύπος», κύριοι συνάδελφοι της Νέας Δημοκρατίας, που υπογράφει ο γνωστός και έγκριτος δημοσιογράφος Γιώργος Παπαθανασόπουλος.
Κυρίες και κύριοι συνάδελφοι, κλείνοντας, θέλω να τονίσω πως απλά εξέθεσα και εξέφρασα, κατά το συνταγματικώς επιτρεπτό μέτρο, τις απόψεις μου τόσο ως Έλληνας πολίτης όσο και ως Βουλευτής και ως Πρόεδρος ενός μικρού κομματικού σχηματισμού. Αντίθετα η εκ μέρους των μηνυτών απόπειρα ποινικοποίησης της εκφράσεως κάθε αντίθετης προς τις δικές τους απόψεις, συνιστά εντελώς αντιδημοκρατική και καταχρηστική συμπεριφορά.
Η ελευθερία του λόγου και των ιδεών αποτελούν θεμέλιο της δημοκρατίας και όχι αδίκημα. Περί αυτού καλείστε να αποφασίσετε. Και εγώ ως παλιός κοινοβουλευτικός θα σεβαστώ, θα πειθαρχήσω στην απόφαση της πλειοψηφίας και αν χρειαστεί, θα προσέλθω με απόλυτη εμπιστοσύνη στην ελληνική δικαιοσύνη που θα κληθεί να επιβεβαιώσει εκ νέου τα όρια μεταξύ ρατσισμού και ελευθερίας των απόψεων, ειδικά όταν πρόκειται για απόψεις που νομίζω ότι βρίσκουν σύμφωνη τη μεγάλη πλειοψηφία του ελληνικού λαού.
Όπως και να έχει, είτε με ασυλία είτε χωρίς, αρνούμαι να αρνηθώ τη θρησκεία μου, μια θρησκεία που ξέρω ότι στοχεύει μόνο στην αγάπη, στην αλληλεγγύη και στη συναδέλφωση, ούτε στο μίσος ούτε στον διχασμό ούτε στον φανατισμό. Γι’ αυτό και θεωρώ τιμή μου να υπερασπίζομαι αυτές τις αρχές σε κάθε εποχή και απέναντι σε οποιονδήποτε, με τον σεβασμό, αλλά και με το θάρρος που ταιριάζει σε έναν πολιτικό που τιμάται τόσα πολλά χρόνια από τους Έλληνες πολίτες που ακόμα πιστεύουν στον Θεό, στην πατρίδα, στη δημοκρατία.
Σας ευχαριστώ.
Κατεβαίνοντας από το Βήμα, όμως, επειδή άκουσα ότι θα είναι ηλεκτρονική η ψηφοφορία μας και επειδή από το πρωί έχουν κατακλύσει σε μηνύματα στα κοινωνικά δίκτυα και ζητούν να μάθουν εάν το κόμμα το μητρικό μου, εάν ο κ. Μητσοτάκης δηλαδή, πραγματικά ψηφίζει σήμερα διαφορετικά απ’ ό,τι πριν λίγους μήνες, εάν έδωσε εντολή να ψηφίσουν την άρση της ασυλίας μου, τους λέω ότι στην Επιτροπή άλλαξε την προηγούμενη φορά τον κ. Τασούλα, γιατί είχε πει έτσι …
ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΚΟΥΤΣΟΥΚΟΣ: …(Δεν ακούστηκε)
ΝΙΚΟΛΑΟΣ ΝΙΚΟΛΟΠΟΥΛΟΣ: Ακούστε, κύριε Κουτσούκο. Από τον ΣΥΡΙΖΑ ξέρουν ακριβώς τι πιστεύουν οι πολίτες. Δεν πιστεύουν ότι το κόμμα που λέει ότι είναι στο χριστιανικό τόξο, όπως και το δικό σας, που πάτε και προσκυνάτε και κάνετε μακριούς σταυρούς, ότι ενδεχομένως έχετε την ίδια στάση.
Σας ευχαριστώ πολύ.


Υπενθυμίζεται πως, στις 2 Νοεμβρίου 2016, η ίδια Ολομέλεια της Βουλής είχε απορρίψει ανάλογο αίτημα για άρση ασυλίας του ίδιου Νίκου Νικολόπουλου, για ανάλογα ομοερωτοφοβικά σχόλιά του, παρά την καταδίκη από τις τρεις ομοερωτικές οργανώσεις-μηνύτριες της προηγηθείσας εισήγησης για μη άρση της ασυλίας του που είχε κάνει η αρμόδια Επιτροπή της Βουλής στις 26 Οκτωβρίου 2016.

Freedom of speech isn’t freedom from consequences

Montana view icon

The first and probably least understood rule about the First Amendment is that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

That is, you can say whatever you want, but there’s no guarantee that there won’t be consequences. A bank robber can’t say, “Give me all your cash,” and claim it’s protected by the First Amendment as freedom of speech.

So to hear attorney Marc Randazza say of his neo-Nazi publisher client, Andrew Anglin, that he had a right to call for a troll storm of Montana resident Tanya Gersh and other Jewish residents of Whitefish, well, that’s a desperate attempt by a lawyer who should have a better understanding of the First Amendment.

No one is arguing that Anglin didn’t have a right to say what he wanted about Gersh or the Jewish faith. Under that same freedom, he may have even had the right to call for a trollstorm — an online call to harass, intimidate and commit violence against a person.

But speech has consequences. Just like inciting a lyching or a riot can be a crime, so to can fomenting action against someone that would result in a loss, whether physical or financial.

We suppose that Randazza cannot possibly justify his client’s repugnant views, so he must instead attempt to find some legal toe-hold to defend a client whose sole purpose seems to be sowing racial hatred. And, we also respect that everyone — even neo-Nazis — should be afforded legal counsel if charged with a crime. If our legal system means anything, it must be that all parties have adequate counsel for justice to truly be carried out effectively.

However, Randazza’s argument seems to be a repetition of the most common misperception of First Amendment law — that the First Amendment absolves anyone from the power of their ideas.

True enough, if one of an Anglin’s unhinged readers who visit the hate site, The Daily Stormer, act because of his words, they too must be held responsible for their actions as an individual. In other words, neither Anglin nor his overactive readers should get a free-pass because of free speech.

But Anglin and his site wasn’t just merely expressing an opinion, it was urging action. It was calling for a trollstorm where anonymous people threatened and intimidated her family because of her religion.

This call-to-action, not merely an opinion, is what changes the argument here. To portray this as a matter of protected speech is like calling an orange a carrot just because both are colored the same. They’re two very different things.

Randazza is right on one point, though.

“(The First Amendment) does not require politeness or kindness,” he wrote.

And while we condemn in harshest possible terms Anglin’s world views and recognize his words as juiced up, recycled old anti-Semitism, the First Amendment does not require thoughtful, nice or even courteous discourse.

Our words have power. And we have the ability to use them because we are free. That’s a pretty powerful combination — living in a place where everyone has a voice and can chose what they mean. Yet, that also means that there has to be some sort of responsibility; some sort of check.

We have seen the courts reaffirm that principle time and time again. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater because those words have actions that could lead to harm. You also can use the Internet or other electronic communication to urge harm, for example, suicide. We’ve seen the courts understand that in several tragic recent cases.

While you might expect a newspaper to stand solidly on the unpopular ground of backing what Anglin did as a free speech, you’ll find no defense of the neo-Nazi here.

If it were just a horrible opinion he’d expressed, we would urge readers to treat Anglin as no different than any other online troll — ignore them, because their only legitimacy is often the attention they find by the outraged decent folk.

But there’s a different between a thought and a call-to-action.

Anglin and his lawyer confuse speech and thought with action. They would like you to believe they’re upholding some kind of American principle. Yet, a freedom to do whatever you want with consequence is exactly what those who wrote the constitutional freedoms worried about — an unrestrained and unfettered power without any check, balance or responsibility.

— The Billings Gazette

Bots, fake news and the anti-Muslim message on social media



• In this report, we show how recent terror attacks in the UK have been successfully exploited by anti-Muslim activists over social media, to increase their reach and grow their audiences.

• Monitoring key anti-Muslim social media accounts and their networks, we show how even small events are amplified through an international network of activists.

• We also provide concrete evidence of a leading anti-Muslim activist whose message is hugely amplified by the use of a 100+ strong ‘bot army’.

• The global reach, low price and lack of regulation on social media platforms presents new possibilities for independent, single issue and extremist viewpoints to gain significant audiences.

• We delve into the murky and secretive world of the dark web to explore just what tools are available for manipulating social media and show how easy it is to make use of these tactics even for non-tech savvy users.

• Through testing, we conclude that even cheaply inflating one’s number of followers has an effect on the ability to reach a larger audience.

• We situate these developments in the context of increasing hostility towards Muslims and immigration in the Europe and the US.[1][2]

“Trigger events” such as terror attacks, and other events that reflect badly on Muslims and Islam, cause both an increase in anti-Muslim hate on the street[3] and, as we will show, also online.


Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are key for public debate and political discourse.

After much criticism, especially in the wake of the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, both Facebook and Twitter are doing more to moderate hateful content on their platforms[4]. However, the internet is still awash with anti-Muslim websites and social media accounts on mainstream platforms. Most worrying is that their size and thus their impact is also on the rise.

Research by Miller et al. and the Runnymede Trust argues that this can likely be attributed to a general increase in anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe and the USA. These are often attributed to anti-Muslim framings of events such as Brexit, increased migration from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe, the clear anti-Muslim rhetoric in Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and terror attacks.[5] [6] [7]

As part of this report, data on key anti-Muslim Twitter accounts was continuously collected between March and November 2017 in order to assess the growth and reach of these anti-Muslim movements on the platform.

The data, which can be seen in the graph below, shows a steady increase among all accounts but some stand out, with short periods of rapid increases in followers among multiple accounts.

Attempting to explain these short bursts of new followers we turn to the scholarship around “Trigger events”. Cuerden and Rogers argue that terror attacks by Muslims cause intense media debate and negative images of Islam, Muslims and immigration which facilitates this creation of a perceived conflict.

Mills et al. found that the perception of conflict between groups facilitates retribution and violence against anyone in the opposite group, as they are dehumanised and seen as monolithic.[8] However, the effect was also seen when immigration and unemployment received increased public attention, underlining that the effect is in part connected to fear and insecurity.[9]

Our data also shows clear signs of these events in the social media sphere. But the effect is not completely uniform. Events such as the Manchester and London Bridge attacks co-occur with rapid increases in followers among many of the key anti-Muslim accounts in the UK. But the Westminster attack shows much less impact on the number of followers, despite being similar to the London Bridge attack in terms of the background of the attacker and the type of incident.

It is important to acknowledge that spikes in direct hate and interest in anti-Muslim alternative media do not necessarily contribute to a long term increase in anti-Muslim hate. Increased activity in this sphere could be explained by increased mobilisation among those already holding prejudiced views of Muslims, as indicated in HOPE not hate’s Fear and HOPE 2017 report.[10]

Followers over time, post-terror attacks, for key British anti-Muslim accounts

These short periods of rapid gains in followers co-occur for multiple accounts. One example is in the hours and days after the Manchester attack, where several of the most prominent anti-Muslim accounts in the UK gained a significant number of followers. Among these were the accounts for failed UKIP leadership hopeful Anne Marie Waters (now running the far-right For Britain party), and for Paul Golding and Jayda Fransen, the leaders of the anti-Muslim street movement Britain First.

But Tommy Robinson (aka Stephen Lennon), former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), stands out. He gained +40,042 followers in the week after the Manchester attack, an increase of +17%, with the majority of those (29,396) coming within 48 hours after the bombing. Similarly, he gained +13% (22,365) and +14% (40,757) followers after the Westminster and Finsbury Park attacks, respectively. This compared to his weekly average increase of +6,422 new followers per week over the period March – November 2017.

Tommy Robinson’s (Stephen Lennon’s) number of Twitter followers over time

Increased number of followers intuitively suggests that the accounts’ resonance have increased, but this effect is far from uniform.

Unsurprisingly, at the same point as these accounts rapidly increase their number of followers, the number of interactions spikes as well. This is especially visible for Lennon/Robinson, who has managed to use Twitter in a very effective manner around each attack, with tweets that are widely retweeted. Spikes in interactions are of course also influenced by other independent factors, not all related to terror attacks, making it difficult to explain spikes when looking at a single account.

Tweets per day for Anne Marie Waters and Tommy Robinson (Stephen Lennon) after terror attacks

With each increase in Twitter followers comes a larger potential reach for every single tweet and therefore a potential influence on the public debate. A clear example of this can be seen in the aftermath of the London Bridge attack on 3 June 2017.

Out of the top 100 most shared tweets about the attack, 32 showed clearly negative sentiments against Muslims. Notable among these were tweets shared by the largest anti-Muslim accounts, such as those run by Paul Joseph Watson of conspiracy site Infowars, alt-right commentator Brittany Pettibone, Raheem Kassam of Breitbart London, Canadian far-right alternative media outlet Rebel Media and the Voice of Europe.

Lennon/Robinson’s cameraman for Rebel Media, Caolan Robinson, who posted the third most retweeted tweet after the attack, accused CNN of fabricating a “muslim protest” against the attack, ahead of the reactions by the Metropolitan Police, the BBC and London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

Screenshots of tweets after London Bridge

FireShot Capture 064 - Bots, fake news and the anti-Muslim m_ -


“1. Islam attacks London\n2. Libs say nothing to do with Islam\n3. Light a few candles\n4. Invite more refugees\n5. Blame Trump \n#LondonBridge


Reactions to current events such as violent attacks are contextual and might differ between countries and continents. For example, attacks in the UK do not necessarily effect sentiments towards Muslims in North America. However, there are several indicators of a growth trend internationally for these accounts

Twitter accounts for North American anti-Muslim figures such as Pamela Geller (@pamelageller), Brigitte Gabriel (@actbrigitte) and David Horowitz (@horowitz39) are all growing steadily. On average there was a +117% growth in followers for key anti-Muslim activists in the UK and USA between March to November 2017. Significant events seem to resonate internationally as well. Geller’s and Gabriel’s account’s both showed rapid increases in followers at the time of the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks in the UK.

Brigitte Gabriel’s number of followers on Twitter over time
Pamela Geller’s follower growth on Twitter

This effect can be seen among anti-Muslim websites as well. Pamela Geller’s ‘Geller Report’ increased from one million views per month to over two million in the period between July and October 2017. Likewise, the Gates of Vienna counter-jihadist blog doubled in visitors per month between May and October 2017.[11]

Monthly visitors for Geller Report[12]

In line with previous scholarship by Miller et al. these types of events have a triggering effect in lowering the barrier for the critique of Islam, but also in direct hate against Muslims.[13]

The growth among Twitter accounts and websites spreading anti-Muslim hate is alarming. In such a key area of public interest, it is an indication of increased interest in these views and as each account or site grows, more people are exposed to deeply prejudiced anti-Muslim views.

Building networks

Far-right events and actions often take place outside of mainstream social media channels and instead on closed, anonymous or less regulated chatrooms and other types of platforms such as Gab, a free speech-advocating Twitter alternative, and group chat platform Discord.[14]

Mainstream social media is an important venue for the anti-Muslim movement to network and disseminate and get information. It has made use of these possibilities to the full. The movement is connected across Europe and the US on platforms such as Twitter, as is clearly shown by their high level of interaction on the network.

The blue circles represent key anti-Muslim accounts and the lines between them represent interaction. The data was gathered for the whole month of October 2017.

Closely-connected social media helps facilitate ‘crowdsourcing’ of anti-Muslim hate messages and propaganda between anti-Muslim activists and the wider far-right milieu. These networks allow for small, local events to be spread around the world and collated into a bigger canon of anti-Muslim propaganda. This serves to strengthen the impression that Islam is a grave threat, despite the number of terror incidents actually being relatively few and far between.

The most prominent anti-Muslim activist in the USA, Pamela Geller, publishes a daily list of “news bulletins” in her email newsletter and on her Twitter account. The list of 10-15 items gives the impression that the frequency of incidents is high but these are sourced widely and frequently include items from North America, Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Australia

A very similar formula is used by websites such as Gates of Vienna, a central anti-Muslim blog, and Voice of Europe, a large Twitter account and website dedicated to reporting anti-Muslim and anti-immigration views.

Super Spreaders 

Marginal anti-Muslim activists can spread their content internationally via much larger and influential social media accounts.

One telling example of this phenomenon is how a picture of a McDonald’s flier in Arabic, posted by Swedish anti-Muslim activist Jan Sjunnesson (@sjunnedotcom), was rehashed countless times and turned into articles in at least eight languages.

On 29 April 2017 Sjunnesson posted a picture of this McDonald’s flier with the caption “McDonalds in Södertälje [a town in Sweden]”. Despite coming from a small Twitter account and being written in Swedish, it was spread quickly on Twitter and was turned into articles on multiple anti-Muslim websites warning about the increasing influence of sharia law and the loss of identity in Europe and the US. It was used by sites such as fake news outlet The Gateway Pundit, neo-nazi blog The Daily Stormer[15] and Russia’s Sputnik News[16] to promote anti-Muslim ideas.

The Gateway Pundit wrote:

Women in Islamic clothing wander around Sweden and violent Muslim men beat and rape the Swedish natives. McDonald’s is also doing their part to make sure that Sweden loses their language and identity by catering to their new demographic, Arabs.[17]

This highlights one important characteristic of social networks: that certain people are more important than others in getting a story widespread attention. These users are often called “super spreaders”, a term for the most contagious patient borrowed from the field of epidemiology.

Super spreaders don’t necessarily have huge followings themselves, but they are more connected than most, and their connections in turn are well connected. But other characteristics, such as trust outside of the network, are also relevant.[18]

Super spreaders have much higher influence on social networks than other users, as their message has a much higher probability of a large reach. In this way, they act as gatekeepers to pushing messages ‘viral’ on social media platforms. Jan Sjunnesson is a telling example. He has 7,250 followers and tweets in Swedish. Intuitively he is not a likely candidate to be featured on The Gateway Pundit. The truth is that he wasn’t. But a much larger user, Peter Imanuelsen (@PeterSweden7), was.

Imanuelsen is an English language-using, far-right, anti-Muslim hate monger on Twitter with roughly 10 times more followers than Sjunnesson. He is an associate of Voice of Europe and connected to at least six key anti-Muslim accounts [Figure 1]. Peter Sweden reposted the image one day later and it was retweeted 4,141 times compared to the original 98.

Sjunnesson’s message reached Imanuelsen, clearly a much more connected user, and it received far greater attention as an article written in The Gateway Pundit (without crediting Sjunnesson).[19]

How the McDonald’s story spread…

Dishonest skewing & fake news

Intentionally dishonest alternative media outlets such as Breitbart[20] and other social media accounts have received considerable attention in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election. Such sites and accounts have propelled the term ‘fake news’ (news items presented as fact without having any basis in reality[21], but also often including heavily skewed news with a factual basis) into common use.

The intention behind producing the content is important when it comes to fakes news. Mistakes and unintentional misinformation, as well as news satire, should not be considered ‘fake news’ (although they might look similar). It is an intention to mislead and straight-out fabrication that sets fake news apart.

However, there are different types of fake news. The spectrum of such content ranges from the clearest outright fabrications, without any basis in reality, to heavily-skewed news items based on actual events. These skewed items make use of real events but leave out important information or fabricate details to make the reader draw whatever conclusion the creator intended.

Spreading fake news often relies on strategic amplification.[22] Using the power of the network and super spreaders, manipulators can push stories ‘up the chain’ of media outlets. An item might be posted on an image board such as 4Chan, a central anonymous forum for the alternative right, where barriers of entry are low or non-existent and from where other users can pick it up and share it on mainstream social media platforms. Influential super spreaders amplify the story, which is then taken up by smaller publications which more influential outlets sometimes make use of to find new material. The Gateway Pundit is for example often referred to by Fox News.[23]

Variations of this tactic are also possible. Smaller outlets can be completely overridden if a story gets enough traction on social media. Topics covered by Trump during the 2016 US presidential election, for example, were widely shared and seen as newsworthy solely because of his candidacy.

Discussions on the use of disinformation campaigns and fake news have heavily focused on the possibility to influence electoral politics[24], but similar strategies are employed by anti-Muslim activists on social media and via alternative news sites dedicated to spreading anti-Muslim an anti-Islamic sentiments.

One typical tactic employed by fake news outlets is to use exaggerated headlines that confirm the reader’s beliefs and prejudice, to attract clicks and encourage sharing on social media. This in turn generates advertising revenue and an increased spread of the message.

Gates of Vienna, a prominent anti-Muslim hate website and Twitter account, ends its daily news feed with a caveat: “We check each entry to make sure it is relatively interesting, not patently offensive, and at least superficially plausible” [emphasis added]. The quote epitomises the fake news formula and it is applied by most anti-Muslim alternative media outlets and social media accounts examined in this report.

Alternative media outlet Breitbart, which is run by Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, has been at the forefront of exploiting this technique to gain readers and drive visibility. Its reporting on Islam and Muslims is largely indistinguishable from the anti-Muslim movement’s rhetoric or even that of the far right.

On Breitbart London there is often insufficient or no evidence at all to support some of the wilder claims of its headlines. Writers often de-escalate from the stronger headline claim to a weaker one in the body of the piece. Such de-escalation leads to the bizarre, openly self-contradictory nature of many articles. ‘Seven Found Guilty of Robbing German Churches to Finance Jihad’, for example, later back-pedals when it admits that: “Judges said it was unclear whether the funds they generated were actually used to support armed jihad and if so, to what extent.”

Failing de-escalation, the writer will instead attempt to rely on putative evidence that doesn’t actually support their claims either.

In ‘Europe’s Rape Epidemic: Western Women Will Be Sacrificed At The Altar Of Mass Migration’, Breitbart London writer Anne Marie-Waters (of anti-Muslim For Britain party) cites a Norwegian (specifically Oslo) rape statistic through a Christian Broadcasting network article, which neither provides a link to cited police reports and only a link to an unavailable YouTube clip when referring to the “rape epidemic”. With such poor ‘evidence’ to support the notion of a rape epidemic in Europe resulting from mass migration, Waters relies heavily on confirming her readers’ prior beliefs through mere speculation and rhetoric.

The result is an echo chamber that reinforces anti-Muslim sentiments and the belief that mainstream media (‘MSM’) cannot be trusted. Tappin, van der Leer and McKay show that readers are more likely to trust news items that confirm their own beliefs, or possibly what they hope to be true, than the other way around.[25] Simultaneously, consistent repetition of a one-sided and wholly negative perspective on Muslims, Islam and immigration also causes what Pennycook and Rand call an “illusory truth effect in which the repetition […] increases perceptions of accuracy”[26].

Steve Bannon, head of Breitbart and Donald Trump’s former chief strategist
<< Read HOPE not hate’s Breitbart report >>

The usage of social media platforms for all major anti-Muslim accounts follows a similar pattern.

Terror attacks, but also other forms of crime, are regularly published by anti-Muslim accounts on Twitter and Facebook promoting the general theme that Islam and Muslims are incompatible with or constitute threats towards Western society. Often other societal developments and news events that are not necessarily connected to Muslims or Islam are heavily skewed or even invented in order to promote anti-Muslim ideas.

A common example is the use of fabricated statistics on crime rates among Muslims. Breitbart’s attempt to perpetuate the idea that there are areas in Sweden where police have little control due to migrant and Muslim crime is one clear example.[27]

Another common take is items designed to assert the idea that Islam is gaining increasing influence over European and American society, via articles with titles such as Pamela Geller’s ‘LOOK: Before and After Islamization of American Education’. As indicated by the steadily growing readership and interaction, the tactic has proved effective.

Coordinated disinformation campaigns: a case study

Online forums and image boards coordinate anti-Muslim social media campaigns and spread wholly fabricated messages across social media. One example is the image of a woman in a headscarf on the day of the Westminster attack in March 2017.

The picture shows a Muslim woman walking with a phone in her hand, past a group of people aiding one of the other victims of the attack. It gained significant attention after a Twitter user called @Southlonestar claimed that the woman was indifferent to the suffering of others and that this was generally true for all Muslims. That the woman was indifferent was not true (this has been refuted by both the photographer and the woman herself). Other pictures in the series shows her noticeably distraught and likely shocked by what she has just seen.[28]

In November 2017 it was revealed that @Southlonestar was one of the 2,700 accounts that had been handed over to US House Intelligence Committee by Twitter as a fake account created in Russia to influence UK and US politics. Except for spreading anti-Muslim hate, it also spread messages before the US presidential election and was also one of the accounts that tweeted pro-Brexit messages on the day of the EU referendum in June 2016.[29]

No matter the circumstances behind the picture it was quickly shared by several major far-right and anti-Muslim accounts on Twitter, including those for alt-right leader Richard Spencer and Pamela Geller.[30]

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer shares the ‘fake news’ image of a supposedly uncaring Muslim woman at the Westminster attack

However, this image of the Muslim woman would soon be used for even more nefarious purposes. The same evening it was shared, the picture was appropriated by users on the /pol/ board on the online forum 4chan. One user posted a picture where the woman was montaged into another setting with the simple comment next to it “you know what to do”, meaning that he wanted his fellow users to create image montages of the woman in other settings.

The intention was further clarified in a comment below. In it, the same user uploaded a file where the image of the woman had been cut out from the background in order to make it easier to montage into other pictures. The anonymous users who posted it wrote: “Go forth and make dank OC” [“Dank” means good or high quality and “OC” means Original Content].

4chan users manipulate the Muslim woman image to reuse/superimpose elsewhere

In the comments that followed were hundreds of variations of the posted image, most situating the woman next to atrocities of varying degrees. Clearly inspired by the original post or its derivatives, the pictures aimed to send the message that the woman (and Muslims overall) were unmoved by the suffering of others – or even enjoyed it. Many of them were extreme and obvious parodies and did not leave the forum. In one she is seen walking past what looks like an extermination camp in Germany.

However, importantly some did not stay on 4chan. Two weeks later a manipulated image was spread on social media in Sweden, after four people were murdered by a car in a terrorist attack in Stockholm. The image showed a paramedic walking between what looked like covered bodies while in the background the familiar silhouette of the woman on Westminster Bridge was superimposed. It was blurred to make it fit in with the setting but undoubtedly was a cut-out from the Westminster photograph. It didn’t get widespread reach as it was debunked quickly by Twitter users, but a similar attempt was made again after the Manchester attack on 22 May 2017.

The same woman was again montaged into a picture of the place of the attack, making it look as if she was leaving the scene untouched, with victims lying behind her. This image was retweeted 52 times and liked 158 times.

Image superimposed onto Stockholm attack and, below, after Manchester arena bombing


Recent actions by alternative right[31] activists have also turned up in the offline world.

During a counter-demonstration against the invitation of Mike Cernovich, an alternative right activist and conspiracist, to give a speech to the College Republicans club at Columbia University, one alternative right activist walked in front of anti-fascist demonstrators and, turning to face photographers, unfurled a large banner. The banner read: “NO WHITE SUPREMACY NO PEDO BASHING NO MIKE CERNOVICH”. The action can only be seen as a way to intentionally smear anti-fascist activists.[32]

The picture was then posted by Paul Joseph Watson, one of the most widely-followed alternative right and anti-Muslim personalities on Twitter (and editor-at-large of conspiracy site Infowars). It was retweeted over 20,000 times despite quickly being discredited as fake with the probable intention of smearing the demonstrators.

“Superficially plausible” seems to have become the motto of anti-Muslim and far-right actors on social media. Claims are often easily debunked but thanks to the speed of the network and users’ seeming willingness to share what confirms their point of view, these stories are spread widely.


On platforms like Twitter and Facebook multiple factors influence what users trust. For example, users that we know about from other contexts and those that we share contacts with are more likely to be trusted.

In the offline world, these attributes are difficult to manipulate and change only with effort or over a long period of time. On social media platforms, where users are represented with much more basic information and numerical measurements such as number of followers and number of replies, it is much easier to impersonate and manipulate these attributes.

A case in point is “Jenna Abrams”. Abrams presented herself as a pro-Trump American woman on Twitter and her witty, anti-feminist and anti-Muslim hate tweets amassed her over 70,000 followers. She was retweeted even by Trump. But Abrams never existed.

As part of the investigation into Russian influence of the 2017 US presidential election, it was revealed that the account was a bot designed to cause division and conflict in American society. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn retweeted Abrams just three days before the 2016 election, which indicates how effectively social media can be deceptively used.

Quotes from Jenna Abrams’ Twitter account

“Muslims laughing at victims: “Shoot that m****r f**king girl right there” #LondonAttacks

To @lsarsour and @MuslimIQ, Sharia Law is peaceful. It’s simply: Beheadings Stonings Hangings Crucifixions Honor killings Genocide …

Because it is so simple to manipulate the signals of trust on social media platforms, bots and fake accounts become powerful tools in directing political discourse. Bots range from simple to technologically-advanced pieces of software that not only post content independently but interact with real users.

After the 2016 US presidential election there was much attention focused on social media bots active on Twitter. In mainstream media, bots have been discussed as a tool deployed by states and well-funded organisations, such as political campaigns, to influence elections. However, while state-sponsored disinformation campaigns present a danger, this one-sided framing of the issue overestimates the amount of funds and expertise needed to manipulate social media using bots and other dishonest amplifications techniques.

The simplest and cheapest types of bots are accessible and usable by private individuals and small organisations with little or no technical knowledge needed, readily available for purchase on various websites. These are simple bots that do not interact with other users and a relatively easy to detect. Their profiles might look genuine but their behaviour is often distinctly ‘bot-like’.

The simplest bots only follow and retweet other users, but the impact of inflating shares and follower numbers should not be underestimated. A user with a large number of followers is generally easier to trust and may seem more ‘legitimate’. Retweets, even by bots, increase a message’s reach and can potentially make a topic go ‘viral’ (see bot case study).

The more advanced bots often mix human control with artificial intelligence and are notoriously difficult to detect. “Jenna Abrams” is a case in point. But technological advancements in areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and increasing interest in these types of projects, mean that advanced bots are within the reach of tech-savvy individuals with minimal resources.

Case Study: Pamela Geller and social media

Pamela Geller, leading anti-Muslim activist

Pamela Geller is one of the most prominent individuals of the anti-Muslim movement in the USA. Banned from entering the UK, her website attracts 2.7 million visitors per month and she distributes a daily newsletter with news items that have a clear anti-Muslim angle.

Her main twitter account had 168K followers as of November 2017. The account is primarily used to drive traffic to her website where articles about the danger of Islam are published 10-15 times a day.

But this is not her only account. Counter to Twitter’s Terms of Service[33] [34] Geller continues to run at least one ‘mirror’. Her old account (@atlasshrugs) continues to post copies of each post from her main account, as if they were tweeted by that account. The strategy helps her stay online in case one account is suspended, while at the same inflates the reach of her message.

Counter-jihadists together: Tommy Robinson (Stephen Lennon), Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller

More noticeably, we have identified that bots are used to amplify Geller’s messages on Twitter. At least 102 accounts copy each tweet from Geller’s account, similar to her own mirror accounts, only these appear to be other individuals of varying backgrounds and only copy those tweets that do not mention other users. They do not tweet anything or little else than Geller and do so within minutes of her posts. The tweets include the photo and link to Geller’s website (as opposed to more common behaviour on Twitter, which is to retweet and thereby acknowledge the original source of the tweet).

These accounts also exhibit many bot-type characteristics. In addition to exclusively posting content with links to Geller’s website, they do not mention any accounts, including Geller. They are highly synchronised, which means they post the same content at nearly exactly the same time.[35] Furthermore they often repeatedly post the very same tweet on the same day, making them incredibly active.

Take the Twitter account @TPartyWoman as an example. On 13 November the account tweeted 34 links to Geller’s site. Some of the tweets were simply repetitions of previous tweets sent out minutes or hours earlier. The link to an article: ‘Muslim construction workers attack Jewish preschool near Tel Aviv’ was tweeted three times during the day.

Further analysis of this network (which accounts are followed and which in return follow those accounts back) reveals peculiar properties.

There is a considerable amount of overlap between the different users’ networks. Some pairs of accounts share as much as 45% of their followers, and who they follow, with each other. The probability of this type of overlap between two independent Twitter accounts with thousands of connections is remarkably low and therefore an indication that they are controlled by the same ‘bot master’.

There is no way of telling who this might be, as Twitter does not provide any identifiable information, but that these bots inflate and amplify the message of Geller’s anti-Muslim Twitter account and website is unquestionable.

The practical impact can of course be questioned. As many of these accounts follow each other the effect of each account’s activity is somewhat mitigated. But keeping in mind that there are at least 100 active accounts with an average of 2,314 followers (and at least some of their followers are likely genuine), the accounts help extend the reach of Geller’s content to at least 230,000 additional accounts per article. The tactic is a simple way to amplify Geller’s message and increase the traffic to her site, which in turn generates advertising revenue and potential sales of her newly-released book

Bots case study

What have become known as ‘social media bots’ are social media accounts that are in part or fully-controlled by software rather than a human. The idea is to shift discourse and amplify messages at a much larger scale than what would otherwise be possible if real people were broadcasting the message

Bots can be effective where it is difficult to establish the true identity behind a social media profile, especially on Twitter, where there is very limited identifiable and verifiable information.

Academic research on bots is plentiful. Several large-scale projects are actively looking to find algorithms to detect bots on Twitter in order to more accurately estimate the influence they have. Some of these methods have shown progress but the varying kinds of bots, as well as the quickly developing technology, make accurately finding bots challenging. A report from the Oxford Internet Institute states that “political actors are adapting their automation in response to our research”. Essentially it is a cat-and-mouse game between the social media platforms and academics on the one side and bot-makers on the other.

The economic and political interest in developing genuine-looking automated accounts is significant. Estimates of the number of bots on social media platforms are significant, with observers estimating between 9% and 15% of all accounts on Twitter are automated.[36] Based on Twitter’s own data – claiming to have 330 million active accounts – this translates to between 29.7 million and 49.5 million bots active on the platform.[37]

Buying influence investigation

The reach of a tweet is determined by the number of followers and how much it is spread by other users. In turn, this is dependent on the message itself and trust in the account that published the message. There is a lot to be gained from having a large reach on social media and there exists a market for inflating and expanding social media reach.

One of the simplest way of amplifying one’s message is to buy followers and retweets. This is done through services specifically designed for that purpose. On these websites, a user buys a number of followers or retweets by bot accounts that will then follow and retweet the chosen account. These bots usually don’t themselves have many real followers because of the lack of original content that they post. It is often simply retweets of a strange array of advertisements and often posted in multiple languages. Therefore, it is easy to discard ‘bought’ followers and retweets because of the low quality of the accounts and their retweets.

But we should not assume that the practice is not impactful. As part of this report we set up multiple Twitter accounts to examine the possible influence of bought followers and shares of content.

The simplest and most accessible way to make use of bots is to buy followers. This does not give access to the account itself and it cannot be directed to tweet in a particular way or be controlled in any way. But it allows one to inflate one’s number of followers. And it is cheap. One thousand (1,000) followers can be bought for between $5 – $15 depending on the outlet. Some differences in quality and guarantees of retainment are factors that influence the price.

Using a mix of different platforms, we bought 2,500 followers each for our two newly-created fake accounts, posing as an online gamer and a travel enthusiast, to assess the potential of bought influence and characteristics of artificially inflated followers.

Buying followers is generally a very easy process involving paying with a PayPal account (less established and generally cheaper sites encourage customers to pay with digital currency Bitcoin). The followers then arrive gradually over the next 48 hours.

The accounts over time gained a significant amount of followers: more than we had bought. After a week, the accounts had gained between 35% – 45% more followers than we had paid for. Many of these might have been bots but, notably, what seems like real users started to respond to our tweets with genuine, reasonable answers to the tweets we were sending out. This indicates that simply buying fake followers and retweets increases the possibility of reaching and interacting with real users, not only in theory but in practice.

Reply to our fake account

As discussed above, the cat-and-mouse game between bot-detection algorithms and bot makers leads to fast innovation in this area. Guides on how to “spot a bot”[38] are easy to come across and can be helpful in some cases. But there is no perfect way to detect all kinds of bots. Political bots have different characteristics from ‘follower’ bots for example.

When inspecting the total of more than 5,000 followers and retweeters we bought for this report, the results were not encouraging. Indiana University’s Botometer[39], an academic project using machine learning to identify bots, gave our recently created fake accounts and a vast majority of their followers a passing grade. In some cases this was better than the personal accounts of the researchers, exemplifying the difficulty of the task to accurately determine social media manipulation at scale.

Buying followers and retweets does not however give access to the actual account or the software that controls it. The user simply pays for the services of the bots. To build your own bots is somewhat more expensive, but not drastically so. There are two requirements for creating a Twitter bot.

First, you need the software needed to automate or control many Twitter accounts at once is required. These are easily available and there exist both commercial and completely free programmes that allow a user to control thousands of accounts and automate their behaviour to different degrees. One of the commercially available on is called TweetAttacksPro.

Secondly, Twitter accounts themselves are needed. Twitter attempts to block bulk creation of large numbers of accounts, making it difficult to register them in large numbers. Furthermore, to make them trustworthy, older accounts with followers and a filled timeline are better as new accounts are often seen as less trustworthy.

For this purpose, black markets of social media accounts exist on both the dark web and on the surface web. On these forums, ‘aged accounts’ – meaning accounts that were created several years ago – are for sale for as little as £3-5 each and even cheaper if one buys many at once. Many users offer hundreds of accounts to sell in packages.

Buying accounts is easier than you think

And it is possible to specify the characteristics of the account e.g. its age, what types of topic it has previously tweeted, even verified accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers are up for sale for between $500 and $1000. For Facebook, one can specify the origin, gender and age of accounts and buy these with genuine-looking timelines and friend list.

These services thereby obviate the need for the end user to actually create the bot account themselves, and as some of these accounts have been built over a long period of time or are stolen or repurposed real accounts, detecting them becomes incredibly difficult.


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[2] Tell MAMA, 2017. A Constructed Threat: Identity, Intolerance and the Impact of Anti-Muslim Hatred, Available at:

[3] Tell MAMA, 2017. A Constructed Threat: Identity, Intolerance and the Impact of Anti-Muslim Hatred, Available at:


[5] Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, Demos, 2016. Islamophobia on Twitter: March to July 2016, Available at:

[6] Runnymede, 2017. Islamophobia, Available at:

[7] Mills, C., Freilich, J. & M Chermak, S., 2015. Extreme Hatred: Revisiting the Hate Crime and Terrorism Relationship to Determine Whether They Are “Close Cousins” or “Distant Relatives.” 63.

[8] Mills, C., Freilich, J. & M Chermak, S., 2015. Extreme Hatred: Revisiting the Hate Crime and Terrorism Relationship to Determine Whether They Are “Close Cousins” or “Distant Relatives.” 63.

[9] Cuerden, G. & Rogers, C., 2017. Exploring Race Hate Crime Reporting in Wales Following Brexit. Review of European Studies, 9(1), p.158.




[13] Mills, C., Freilich, J. & M Chermak, S., 2015. Extreme Hatred: Revisiting the Hate Crime and Terrorism Relationship to Determine Whether They Are “Close Cousins” or “Distant Relatives.”.

[14] Data & Society, 2017. Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. pp.1–106. Available at:

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[19] Laila, C., 2017. SWEDENISTAN – McDonald’s in Sweden Sends Out Mailers in Arabic to Accommodate Muslim Migrants. The Gateway Pundit. Available at: [Accessed November 2, 2017].


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[24] Freedom House, 2017. Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy, Available at:

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[27] HOPE not hate’s Breitbart report, page 29

[28] Tell MAMA, 2017. The truth behind the photo of the Muslim woman on Westminster Bridge. Available at: The truth behind the photo of the Muslim woman on Westminster Bridge [Accessed October 12, 2017].

[29] Mortimer, C., 2017. Man who posted image of Muslim woman “ignoring Westminster terror victims” was a Russian troll. The Independent. Available at: [Accessed November 17, 2017].

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[31] See The International Alternative Right: From Charlottesville to the White House

[32] Weill, K., 2017. Alt-Right Frames Protesters as Pedophiles With Fake NAMBLA Sign. Available at: [Accessed November 23, 2017].

[33] Twitter, The Twitter Rules. Available at:

[34] According to Twitter: “Some of the factors that we take into account when determining what conduct is considered to be spamming include: if you post duplicative or substantially similar content, replies, or mentions over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account, or create duplicate or substantially similar accounts”

[35] Woolley, S., 2017. Resource for Understanding Political Bots. Oxford Internet Institute. Available at: [Accessed October 12, 2017].

[36] Varol, O. et al., 2017. Online Human-Bot Interactions: Detection, Estimation, and Characterization,

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[39] Available at: