‘Gerontas Pastitsios’ Pastafarian Facebook Page Leads To Blasphemy Arrest In Greece
A 27-year-old man has been arrested by Greek police for what the authorities called “malicious blasphemy,” according to a HuffPost translation of a press release.
Police allege that the man managed a Facebook page that lampooned the deceased Eastern Orthodox monk Elder Paisios, a widely popular religious figure, using the name “Gerontas (Elder) Pastitsios.”
Pastitsios is a Greek pasta dish, and the page parodied the monk and his work in the vein of Pastafarianism, a lighthearted, satirical movement that promotes irreligion. In a screen shot of the group’s Facebook page, which now appears to have been removed from the social network, Elder Paisios is shown with a plate of pastitsios.
The unidentified man was arrested at his home in Athens on Friday following complaints received by the Greek police’s “Cyber Crimes” bureau. Police confiscated the man’s laptop and “determined that he was indeed the person who created and managed” the Facebook page, according to a HuffPost translation of the Greek police press release.
According to Reddit user “DeSaad,” who posted a thread about the arrest to the social news site, the manager of the page used it to publish satirical images and articles about the Greek Orthodox faith and Elder Paisios. The Redditor claimed that this angered members of the Greek right-wing political party Golden Dawn, who called for the man’s arrest under Greece’s anti-blasphemy laws.
However, a Digital Journal translation of a Greek news source claims that the Facebook page was under investigation prior to the political party’s condemnation of it.
The arrest has sparked outrage across the Internet. The hashtag #FreeGeronPastitios trended strongly on the Greek Twittersphere, Business Insider reports.
A petition addressed to the Greek parliament demands the immediate release of the accused man and the abolishment of anti-blasphemy laws in Greece.
Blasphemy in Greece carries a fine of up to 3,000 euros (about $3,800), and up to 2 years imprisonment, according to Change.org.
Pastafarianism, also known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is a parody religion founded in the United States that opposes, among other things, the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools.