Σήμερα ο εκπρόσωπος του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι (ΕΠΣΕ) Παναγιώτης Δημητράς έδωσε στο Τμήμα Αντιμετώπισης Ρατσιστικής Βίας της ΓΑΔΑ ένορκες καταθέσεις για δεκατρείς (13) δικογραφίες για ρατσιστικά εγκλήματα που έχουν σχηματισθεί μετά από μηνυτήριες αναφορές του ΕΠΣΕ.
Για τις δύο πρώτες δικογραφίες, που αφορούν αντισημιτισμό και ομοερωτοφοβία, δηλώθηκε και παράσταση πολιτικής αγωγής από την Andrea Gilbert, υπεύθυνη στο ΕΠΣΕ για την καταγραφή και καταπολέμηση της ομοερωτοφοβίας και του αντισημιτισμού.
Ο εκδότης κρατείται στη Γενική Αστυνομική Διεύθυνση Αττικής
Συνελήφθη, πριν από λίγο, ο Στέφανος Χίος, έξω από τα γραφεία της εφημερίδας «Μακελειό», στην Καλλιθέα, έπειτα από εισαγγελική παραγγελία για την διενέργεια κατεπείγουσας προκαταρκτικής εξέτασης μέσα στις προθεσμίες της αυτόφωρης διαδικασίας, για δημοσίευμα σχετικά με την συμφωνία με την ΠΓΔΜ.
Ο εκδότης κρατείται αυτή την ώρα στη Γενική Αστυνομική Διεύθυνση Αττικής.
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
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.
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 “enikos.gr.” 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.
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.
Παναγιώτης Δημητράς – Panayote Dimitras Ελληνικό Παρατηρητήριο των Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι – Greek Helsinki Monitor
email: email@example.com address: PO Box 60820 – GR 15304 Glyka Nera Greece
εκφράσει στο Twitter τις αντι-ισλαμικές απόψεις του. Ωστόσο, αυτήν τη φορά βιάστηκε να ποστάρει και μάλλον εκτέθηκε.
την ίδια φωτογραφία, όπως την έχει ποστάρει ο Vittorio Vito Pirbazari στον προσωπικό λογαριασμό του στο Instagram, όπου αναφέρει: «#dogsofberlin
• 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.
• “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 and, as we will show, also online.
DISINFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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 https://t.co/Glefb8Tto4
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Russia’s Sputnik News 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.
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.
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).
Intentionally dishonest alternative media outlets such as Breitbart 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, 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. 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.
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, 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. 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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
Recent actions by alternative right 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.
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.
They are trying to censor this image. It's coffin nails to the left. Retweet the crap out of it. Streisand effect! 🤗 pic.twitter.com/8adRZueldO
“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.
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 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 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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” 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, 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.
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.
 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].
 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”
Κυρίες Ιωάννα Κλάπα και Μαρία Δημητροπούλου Εφέτες – Ειδικές Ανακρίτριες Εφετείο Αθηνών
21 Ιουλίου 2014
Από δημοσιεύματα για τις δικογραφίες που αφορούν ποινικές διώξεις στελεχών της «Χρυσής Αυγής» που εξετάζετε, διαπιστώσαμε πως σε αυτές δεν περιλαμβάνονται τρεις δικογραφίες που αφορούν οι δυο παρόμοιες ποινικές διώξεις με παραπομπή σε δίκες που έχουν ήδη αναβληθεί μια φορά, στις οποίες παρέχουμε δωρεάν νομική βοήθεια στα θύματα και πολιτικώς ενάγοντες, και η τρίτη ολοκλήρωση προκαταρκτικής εξέτασης με εν μέρει απορριπτική διάταξη του άρθρου 47 ΚΠΔ που εκδόθηκε στις 16 Ιουνίου 2014 και εν μέρει άσκηση ποινικής δίωξης.
Επισυνάπτουμε τα κατηγορητήρια για τις δύο πρώτες υποθέσεις, στις οποίες το ΕΠΣΕ παρέχει δωρεάν νομική βοήθεια στα θύματα και πολιτικώς ενάγοντες, και τον πίνακα παρακολούθησης υπόθεσης (μαζί με τη διάταξη αν όπως ελπίζουμε παραλάβουμε σήμερα πριν υποβληθεί η παρούσα) για την τρίτη στην οποία είμαστε μηνυτές και πολιτικώς ενάγοντες.
Είμαστε στη διάθεσή σας για κάθε πρόσθετη πληροφορία ή κατάθεση που τυχόν κριθεί αναγκαία.
Στην κατάθεση αυτή αναφέρθηκε η έδρα κατά την ανάγνωση εγγράφων στις 21 Μαΐου 2018:
“Ντόκος: Αναγνωστέο 420 [έγγραφο του Π. Δημητρά του Ελληνικού Παρατηρητηρίου Συμφωνιών του Ελσίνκι προς τις ανακρίτριες με συνημμένα 2 κλητήρια θεσπίσματα. Αφορά κλητήριο του Μονομελούς Πλημ/κείου Μεσολογγίου με κατηγορούμενο τον Καραδήμα για επίθεση που έλαβε χώρα το 2012 στο Αιτωλικό και προξένησε κακώσεις και σωματικές βλάβες σε τρίτον και την υπόθεση Πλωμαρίτη].
Ρουσ: Κυρία Πρόεδρε, ποια η συνάφεια να αναγιγνώσκονται κλητήρια θεσπίσματα με κατηγορούμενους που δεν είναι κατηγορούμενοι στη δίκη και παραβιάζονται τα προσωπικά τους δεδομένα;
Την ίδια ημέρα, στη δίκη της Χρυσής Αυγής, έγινε αναφορά στην παρούσα ιστοσελίδα και στην καταγραφή από το ΕΠΣΕ βανδαλισμών της Χρυσής Αυγής στο εβραϊκό νεκροταφείο Ιωαννίνων, στις 18 Απριλίου 2002 και στις 2 Ιουνίου 2009.
“θέτω ενώπιον σας την ιστοσελίδα, καθώς και πλήρη αρθρογραφία, την έκθεση του Παρατηρητηρίου του Ελσίνκι κ.α. που επαληθεύουν τους βανδαλισμούς της ΧΑ στο εβραϊκό νεκροταφείο Ιωαννίνων […]”
Out of the 315 entries, 117 concerned incidents against migrants and refugees, 98 were anti-Semitic incidents (of which 69 were “burning of Judas/Hebrew” around Easter), 36 were incidents against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, 31 were incidents against Roma, 16 were incidents against persons with disabilities, 9 were incidents against national minorities, 13 were Islamophobic incidents, 4 were incidents against human rights defenders, and 3 concerned apology of genocides: the sum exceeds 315 as several entries concerned incidents against more than one victims’ group. All 315 incidents were or will be reported in criminal complaints to the Prosecutor for Racist Crimes in the Athens First Instance Court.
Additionally, GHM’s experience with the complaints filed with the Athens Prosecutor for Racist Crimes is that in 2017 she found them all admissible and opened case files for each one. Some were sent to local Prosecutors in other cities where the alleged crimes occurred.
What continues to be very important is that the fact that the Athens Prosecutor for Racist Crimes, having so many other duties, can only slowly and with considerable delay handle the case files related to racist crimes. Additionally, that Prosecutor keeps changing: since the first one was appointed in mid-2016, there have been four different prosecutors in that position through early 2018.
List of racist crimes recorded in 2017
26 and 27/12/2017: Anti-Semitic, conspiracy-theory articles and cartoons portraying the “secret relationship” among the Greek government, the Rouvikonas anarchist group and the Israeli Embassy.
24/12/2017: Threatening anti-Roma comments and targeting of young children in Markopoulos Attica in Facebook posts.
22/12/2017: Anti-Semitic post in Greek Atheist Facebook group.
22/12/2017: Anti-Roma fake news in many media outlets about Roma who “rob drivers trapped in the snow.”
20/12/2017: Charge of police abuse of a migrant outside the Moria center in Lesvos.
20/12/2017: Xenophobic fake news post by a Golden Dawn police officer, with thousands of “shares” and re-postings in electronic platforms.
20/12/2017: Racist statements by the Mayor of Oreokastro about “PWD mechanisms” in the Municipality.
18/12/2017: Anti-Semitic Facebook post by a cadre of the far-right Ellinon Synelevsis (Greeks’ Assembly) party.
17/12/2017: Video of police violence inside the Moria refugee camp in Lesvos.
16/12/2017: Racist abuse of power by a Prosecutor in a brief against DEB (Party of Friendship, Equality and Peace) for using the term “Turkish minority”.
12/12/2017: Lesvos municipal council member calls for “drastic, non-peaceful actions” against refugees and NGOs.
12/12/2017: Anti-Semitic article about the Macedonian issue with the equation Tsipras = traitor = “Jew-boy”.
11/12/2017: Mayor of Lesvos, the village council president and other authorities obstruct the unloading of housing units for those asylum seekers living in tents in Moria.
10/12/2017: Anti-Semitic, conspiracy-theory articles against the president of the Athens Jewish Community.
08/12/2017: Attack (eggs thrown) against the Muslim Educational Cultural Association of Macedonia-Thrace, in Thessaloniki.
07/12/2017: Harassment of Turkish Minority members in Komotini with crosses sprayed on walls of homes and offices and leaflets.
06/12/2017: Greek fans throw racial insults (monkey sounds) at Cameroonian volleyball player Nathan Wounembaina every time he touched the ball during a match between French club team VB Tours and Greek club team Olympiakos Piraeus.
05/12/2017: Report by Generation 2.0 charges conditions of racial discrimination and violence in hotspots in Lesvos and Samos islands.
04/12/2017: High-ranking Greek Police officer in Lesvos is inciting to racial violence against migrants and refugees.
04/12/2017: Extreme anti-Roma article and comments in the local Laconia newspaper NotosPress.
02/12/2017: Lesvos Municipal vehicles attempt to block containers meant to house unaccompanied minor refugees.
02/12/2017: Another desecration of the Athens Holocaust Memorial.
30/11/2017: Racist fake news posted on Facebook by a retired army officer in Lesvos, reprinting by a newspaper and sharing by more than 650 users.
29/11/2017: Desecration of memorial to drowned refugees on Thermi beach, Lesvos.
28/11 to 01/12/2017: Racist comments praising the desecration of the memorial to drowned refugees & reproducing of fake news about the “church burned” by refugees in Lesvos.
26/11/2017: Violent attack on religious gathering of Pakistani Muslims in Athens by hoodlums, fans of PAOK football club.
26/11/2017: Racist bullying of Jordanian doctor by a colleague at the Agioi Anargyroi Hospital in Kifissia (Athens suburb).
06/02/2017: Islamophobic cartoon tweeted by a lawyer in Veria.
22/11/2017: Attacks by Nazis and racists, with the cooperation of the Greek Police, on refugees and a lawyer in Lesvos.
22/11/2017: Violent racist attacks on the Imam Syed Ghulam Qambar and an African migrant in a Piraeus street market.
20 και 21/11/2017: Racist comments against refugees on the Facebook page of the Chios newspaper Politis.
19/11/2017: Attack by anti-migrant militant group (probably Golden Dawn) on Mohammed Mahdi in Amerikis Square, Athens.
17/11/2017: Anti-Roma tweet by ex-Minister Andreas Andrianopoulos
15/11/2017: Republication of old racist article against Roma and migrants, by the editor of Vradini newspaper and other media.
09/11/2017: Discriminatory treatment of Turkish minority members in the Didymoteiho General Hospital.
08/11/2017: Racist slurs against Greek-African NBA player Giannis Antetokounmbo by UCL London professor Evangelos Markopoulos.
07 και 08/11/2017: Racist fake news on ANT1 TV news broadcast and many sites, about the “migrant in Mytilini who made a vulgar gesture at a Christian icon.”
06/11/2017: Corinth Migrant Detention Center is reportedly refusing to provide medical assistance to the detainee Aftab Begikpou after his suicide attempt.
05/11/2017: Public ambulance driver refuses on racial grounds to pick up a female migrant hunger-striker in Lesvos after she fainted.
03/11/2017: Stoning of the home of 11-year-old Amir, who was to be a flag-bearer in a National Parade.
29/10/2017: Classes suspended in a Sepolia (Athenian district) Primary School, due to threats and bullying by Golden Dawn members against the families of Pakistani students.
01/11/2017: Statement of support by the parents of the 6th Primary School of Daphne for the school’s Principal, who denied the Greek flag to young Amir (see entry no. 40).
31/10/2017: Municipality of Santorini prejudicially rejects a disabled person’s application for reimbursement of broken wheelchair.
30 and 31/10/2017: Racist comments against hunger-striking refugees on the Facebook page of Lesvosnews newspaper.
28/10/2017: Students Parade led by an Albanian flag-bearer in Santorini canceled due to Golden Dawn bullying.
28/10/2017: Complaint lodged for the barring 11-year-old Amir (see entries 40 and 42) from the position of flag-bearer in the Daphne Students Parade.
26/10/2017: Racially motivated automobile drivers in Rhodes attack a Nigerian with a screwdriver, whom they had just hit with a car.
22/10/2017: Neo-nazis with police protection stage protest march with racist slogans against the draft law for the recognition of gender identity.
20/10/2017: Anti-Roma statement by PASOK parliamentarian Leonidas Grigorakos.
19/10/2017: Abusive racist Facebook posts by Golden Dawn member about the young refugee who became a flag-bearer.
18/10/2017: New Democracy Vice President Adonis Georgiadis’ racist and slanderous verbal attack on the Roma population in Halandri, a suburb of Athens
18/10/2017: Crowd of extreme rightists with the cultish, self-proclaimed cleric, “father Kleomenis”, spouting anti-Semitic hate-speech outside a theatre in Thessaloniki.
17/10/2017: Violent gay-bashing in Rethymno, Crete.
16/10/2017: PM and leader of the Union of Centrists party Vassilis Leventis continues his transphobic raving: “it’s a brain disorder”.
14/10/2017: Lawsuit against unprecedented online anti-Roma intimidation and slander.
11/10/2017: Transphobic cover page in the newspaper Dimokratia.
11/10/2017: Extreme homophobic and transphobic front-page, inciting to violence, in the newspaper Eleftheri Ora.
10/10/2017: Anti-Semitism and transphobia on banner carried by “father Kleomenis” (see entry 52) and other ultra-rightists outside the Hellenic Parliament during the voting for the gender identity law.
10/10/2017: Complaints of racist abuse and institutional racism lodged by Doctors Without Borders.
10/10/2017: Vassilis Leventis (see entry 54) calls transgender identity a “mental illness”, “abnormality” and “animals” during Parliamentary session.
07/10/2017: Racially biased decision by the Parents Association of Molos Thermopylae to block refugee children from attending school.
07/10/2017: Brutal attack by anti-migrant militant groups in Aspropyrgos, on Asfak Mahmud and Vakas Husain.
07/10/2017: Violent racist assault of Ousman Mohammed in the Athens suburb of Neo Iraklion.
06/10/2017: Stoning of the Feres branch of the Cultural and Educational Association of Didymoteicho Muslims immediately after it opened.
04/07/2017: Army officer’s discriminatory refusal to serve in the Dervenion Thessaloniki refugee hotspot.
02 and 07/07/2017: Police exhibit extreme homophobia in reaction to statements from an openly gay colleague.
29/06/2017: Migrant worker Mohammed Avzel stabbed by fascists in Menidi.
28/06/2017: Anti-Roma prejudice from Makis Voridis, head of Nea Dimokratia Internal Affairs, in a parliamentary question.
28/06/2017: Anti-Roma assembly at the Koropi Police Dept, with the participation of the Mayor and union police officer (with articles praising the event)
25 and 26/06/2017: Golden Dawn coast guard officer posts transphobic and homophobic comments on Facebook
24/06/2017: Greek performer Tzimis Panousis trivializes the Holocaust.
24/06/2017: Mayor of Maroussi (Athens suburb) and the President of the National Union of Municipalities & Communities – the Medical Association of Athens – the National Intergovernmental Network of Healthy Cities – Health Promotion are responsible for installing a kiosk on the pedestrian path designated for the blind.
23/06/2017: Formal complaint regarding a petrol bomb attack on a migrant-owned shop in Patissia Athens.
22/06/2018: Anti-Roma statements by political cadre Pangalos and journalists Voulgarinos and Doulgeridis in newspapers To Vima and Ta Nea and TV channel SKAI.
22/06/2017: Golden Dawn MP recites the Third Reich anthem in Aspropyrgos.
20/06/2017: Accusations of xenophobic bullying of migrants and addicts on city buses to Menidi.
19 to 26/06/2017: Anti-Roma article on numerous websites.
17/06/2017: Hate Speech against Roma in Halandri, suburb of Athens, by representative of far-right LAOS, K. Aivaliotis in Art TV broadcast.
16 και 17/06/2017: Racist reprinting of fake news about “refugees who demand that Greek women be modest”.
15/06/2017: Anti-refugee protest in Chios Island
15/06/2017: Hate speech on the grounds of skin color by a neo-Nazi on Facebook.
14/06/2017: Bus drivers in Skaramanga district continuously refusing to serve refugees (Lawsuit by the Hellenic League for Human Rights).
12/06 to 04/07/2017: Onslaught of hate crimes committed by the Nazi organizations Apella and AME/Combat 18 – Nazi style pogrom against the Menidi Roma.
10/06/2017: Anti-Roma tirade in Facebook post and comments.
08/06/2017: Neo-Nazi TV channel Ted Greek reposts anti-Semitic video of Kostas Plevris on YouTube.
07/06/2017: Minor government coalition partner ANEL paty’s MP Kostas Katsikis verbally assaulting a representative of the Greek Forum of Migrants in the parliament.
07/06/2017: Police vehicles parked on walkway for visually impaired outside Athens Court of Appeal.
06/06/2017: Abuse of detainees by racist police officers in the Petrou Ralli Migrant Confinement Center.
22/05 to 06/06/2017: Many sites publishing an anti-Roma article
04/06/2017: Islamophobic Facebook post and comments against the minority in Thrace by an organizer of the “Resign!” anti-government campaign.
03/06/2017: Brutal racist assault by hoe on a 24-year-old Bangladeshi in Lappa Achaia.
31/05/2017: Homophobic and transphobic discussion event in Tripoli.
29/05/2017: Homophobic harassment by police and unprecedented mobilization by Directorate of Internal Affairs.
27/05/2017: Homophobic statements by Nea Dimokratia cadre.
21/05/2017: Anti-Semitic protest gathering by Orthodox Christian fundamentalists against the erection of a mosque.
16/05/2017: Homophobic video clip by Golden Dawn rapper Stathis Kiou, which glorifies Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris.
15/05/2017: Homophobic speech by Ilias Kasidiaris goes unpunished after his attack on MP and former Minister Nikos Dendias.
14/05/2017: Violent racial attacks with rocks and threats against migrants in the homes in Aspropyrgos.
13/05/2017: Islamophobic and libelous tweet by former MP Andreas Andrianopoulos.
13/05/2017: Successful racist obstruction to settle refugees in apartments in Giannitsa, Northern Greece.
11/05/2017: Violent homophobic attack, in Iraklio, Crete
10/05/2017: Anti-Semitic cartoon and article by journalist and cartoonist, Stathis.
09/05/2017: Migrants threatened by armed henchmen (prompted by the owner of the house) to pay the rent, in Petrou Ralli street, Athens.
04/05/2017: Greek Police vehicles parked on the pedestrian path designated for the blind, right in front of the Court of Appeal, in Athens.
02 ως 04/05/2017: More than 14 violent attacks against refugees (some of them were also gay or trans) in Leros island.
01/05/2017: 17-year-old boy from Bahrain beaten up by club doormen in Gazi district, Athens
28/04/2017: Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim’s anti-Semitic hate speech.
27/04/2017: Racist anti-Roma police raid in Perea, Salonica
23/04/2017: Greek Police racist sweep operation against Roma in Mykonos. They actually deported Greek citizens from a Greek island.
20/04/2017: Municipality council voting and protests in Chios, led by a priest, against NGOs and a clinic for migrants.
20/04/2017: 3 refugees injured, attacked with rocks by Golden Dawn in Souda camp, Chios. Police brought the …refugees in detention.
19/04/2017: 6 homophobic lawsuits (by Metropolitan bishop of Thessaloniki Anthimos) targeting Thessaloniki Pride (concerning posters not published by the Pride) accusing them of blasphemy.
18/04/2017: Anti-Roma hate speech by Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas in Twitter
188-256. Anti-Semitic festival 2017: Burning of “Judas” or ”Jew” all around Greece during April 2017 (69 cases)
11/04/2017: Theology teacher distributed homophobic leaflet in school (exact dates unknown).
08 to 22/04/2017: 4 more, cruel racist attacks in Aspropyrgos, Attica, against Pakistani Asek Ali, Ranja Anser, Zhia Oul Chlak and Azim Anouer.
31/03/2017: Anti-refugee hate speech and threats, during Stylida Municipality’s public conference.
29/03, 02 to 03/04/2017: Continuing violent attacks against Pakistani migrants in Aspropyrgos, Attica. (More than 40 recorded since August.)
28/03/2017: Racist threats against Pakistani migrants in Greece, by far-right “Makelio” newspaper, responding to a hoax about a non-existent “Pakistani Islamic Party of Greece”.
28 και 30/03/2017: 2 Holocaust Memorials desecrated in Arta and Kavala
24/03/2017: Homophobic bullying and threats against a woman by a group of men in Gazi area, Athens.
23/03/2017: 70 refugee and migrant children reported to be banned from school in Filippiada, following racist reactions.
22/03/2017: Men, women, children refugees held in a cage in Chios
21/03/2017: Fire burning down Beyazit Mosque in Didymoticho, Thrace. Speculations on arson attack and incomplete fire extinction are being researched by Intelligence Service.
21/03/2017: Extreme anti-Semitic and racist comments below a Facebook post by Action Aid.
19/03/2017: Transphobic and homophobic conference organized by the Municipality of Korinthos and the Greek Union of Theologists.
11/03/2017: Homophobic discrimination during a job interview in Mykonos: the applicant was asked on her sexual preferences.
08/03/2017: Mob bullies the representative of the local Metropolitan in Pelopio, following discussions on a possible refugee hotspot in the area.
07 και 08/03/2017: Teacher unions in Thrace state they will not accept the Turkish language to be taught in kindergartens.
06/03/2017: Campaign in Kifisia district, Athens, against adolescent refugees’ housing.
05/03/2017: Three migrants chased down, beaten, and shot at by five police officers in Samos, after replying they are Algerians.
04/03/2017: Police violence against arrested Roma in Liosia area, Athens
03 through 07/03/2017: Underage Algerian tortured by the Police in Samos, right after his suicide attempt.
03/03/2017: Homophobic leaflets signed by “Athenian Orthodox Christian Youth”
02 και 24/03/2017: Hate Speech by local paper called “Free Thrace”, targeting Turkish minority union in Alexandroupoli.
28/02/2017: Racist physical assault and insults against a migrant woman in a bus, in Athens: “Here in Greece, we spit on foreigners and illegals”.
26/02/2017: Discriminatory behavior and decision of a tax officer against a woman with disability.
24/02/2017: Greek Police vehicles parked on the pedestrian path designated for the blind, right in front of the Court of Appeal building, in Athens.
20/02/2017: 45 year-old man with disability, beaten up by a man whose car he photographed while he was parking it in the seat for people with disabilities.
17/02/2017: Far-Rightists chain themselves in the door of a primary school in Oreokastro district, Thessalonica, to obstruct refugee students from entering the class. Police is there but arrests only antifascist demonstrators.
15/02/2017: Car arson attack against the Turkish minority journalist Ilhan Tahsin
10/02/2017: Anti-Semitic article in a far-right newspaper of Thrace on the apology of the Imam of Glafki, concerning his anti-Semitic hate-speech.
09/02/2017: “Collection” of homophobic and transphobic hate-speech articles and speeches by clerics, politicians, academics and others, responding to a thematic week on gender issues in secondary school.
06/02/2017: Algerian detained migrant dies because the guards didn’t inform the doctors on his serious health problems.
06/02/2017: Islamophobic delirium in a Vice documentary about the Mosque that isn’t built in Athens. Interview with the leader of the far-right occupiers of the site.
03/02/2017: Metropolitan of Piraeus Seraphim’s homophobic and anti-Semitic hate speech.
02/02/2017: 86 parents in Perama, Attica, apply for their children to change school due to refugee children attending primary school.
01/02/2017: Extremely violent racist attack against Pakistani Zisan Elachi, in Aspropyrgos, Attica.
31/01/2017: Extreme anti-migrant article in the Nazi blog “Arma”
27/01/2017: Anti-Semitic comments and articles against New Democracy Vice president Adonis Georgiadis, after he apologized for his past anti-Semitic hate speech.
27/01/2017: Migrant street-sellers bullied in Piraeus by a racist.
27/01/2017: Nazi homophobic article against thematic week on gender issues in secondary school.
26/01/2017: Metropolitan of Kalavryta Amvrosios’ racist and islamophobic hate speech.
26/01/2017: Parody video in a far-right YouTube channel, portraying refugee children as future jihadists.
25/01/2017: Homophobic attack in the center of Athens
24/01/2017: New homophobic outburst by Nazi Konstantinos Plevris during his trial on homophobia.
24/01/2017: Homophobic delirium by Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim and call to parents to keep their children away from school during thematic week on gender issues.
21/01/2017: Homophobic delirium by actor K. Prekas: “Gay people shouldn’t exist”
21/01/2017: Racist decision by the parents’ union in a Larisa primary school not to accept refugee children and threats against the school principal.
19/01/2017: G. Giakoumatos, doctor, ex-Minister and New Democracy MP: “Homosexuality is a contagious disease”
19/01/2017: Report by an actor on a law discriminating against people with disabilities in theater schools.
17 & 18/01/2017: Anti-Semitic statement and statement against Turkish minority by, V. Leventis (see entry 54).
17/01/2017: Golden Dawn members and MP G. Lagos violently attack teachers and parents in a primary school in Perama, Attica, to support other parents who wanted refugee children out of school.
16/01/2017: Racist occupation of school in protest against the presence of refugee children, in Killini – Andravida.
15/01/2017: Racist text and picture targeting migrant and refugee children, in Nazi Meandros magazine.
14/01/2017: Anti-migrant conspiratorial comments by “Greeks’ Assembly” far-right party leader, Artemis Sorras.
13/01/2017: Anti-Semitic delirium in far-right newspaper Makelio.
12/01/2017: Anti-Semitic conspiratorial comments, during popular morning show in Alpha TV by journalist Dimos Verykios.
12/01/2017: ANEL co-governing party’s politician (and ex-army officer) on refugees: “May they die in their tents”
11/01/2017: Mohammed Yousouf, a migrant from Pakistan gets bludgeoned with bats by 10-12 racists in Elefsina, Attica and gets detained due to lack of residence permit.
11/01/2017: Roma kids refused entry in the public hospital of Pyrgos.
09/01/2017: Lesvos hotel owners effectively refuse providing shelter to refugees and to cooperate with UNHCR.
05/01/2017: Racist conference targeting the Roma community in Pyrgos with participation of the Mayor, the local police chief and the manager of the local public hospital and article praising the conference.