Statement by Greek Helsinki Monitor on the trial of writer Soti Triantafyllou

Graeme Atkinson - 21 07 17

Statement by Greek Helsinki Monitor spokesperson Panayote Dimitras on the trial of writer Soti Triantafyllou.

Greece has been criticised by the UN and the Council of Europe for its failure to prosecute widespread hate speech. The country’s anti-racism prosecutor has opened more than 150 criminal files for hate speech and other hate crimes, most on the basis of Greek Helsinki Monitor’s reports and with the support of the Greek government.

One such case is Soti Triantafyllou’s. She has been referred to trial for having portrayed all Muslims as terrorists or accomplices to terrorism and Islam as an ideology of barbarism.

Indicative of the problem is that scores of intellectuals including academics and, even, the former EU Ombudsman Nikiforos Diamandours, have opposed the trial and expressed solidarity with Soti Triantafyllou if not open or implicit support of her views.


The success of Greece’s nazi Golden Dawn party is often attributed to the effective mainstreaming of racist views in Greek society.

Opinion polls indicate that, in the EU, the highest percentage of people espousing antisemitism and xenophobia can be found in Greece and Hungary. In 2015-2016 three UN and Council of Europe expert bodies criticised Greece for failing to prosecute racist speech, and asked the country to toughen its anti-racism legislation.

In April 2017, one of the country’s most popular authors, Soti Triantafyllou, was referred by the Athens Prosecutor for Racist Crimes to trial for inciting racial hatred though an extreme Islamophobic article published after the Bataclan, Paris terrorist attack in November 2015.

She wrote:

“Islam is not a religion like the other [religions], it is a political programme, it is an ideology of barbarisation (…). As Marco Polo said “the militant Muslim is the person who beheads the infidel, while the moderate Muslim holds the feet of the victim.””…a quote that is a well-known hoax.

An avalanche of protests from “liberals” followed Triantafyllou’s prosecution. Indicative of the widespread support for the freedom to spread, if not of the effective espousal of, racist speech is the petition of 178 intellectuals, including the former Greek and then EU ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, published in early June 2017.

The signatories did not criticise Triantafyllou’s article but expressed their unconditional solidarity with the author for her unjust referral to trial, calling on the courts to acquit her.


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