Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Via Amnesty International Professor Takis Alexiou was sentenced to 25 months in prison on July 1st 2005. He is an internationally-renowned academic, writer and artist. He is also founder of the Greek Rumi Committee which studies the philosophical and poetical works of Mevlana Celaledin Rumi, a 13th century philosopher, poet and humanist. Charges were brought against Professor Alexiou after a resident of Simi called as a witness a Greek Orthodox monk, Arsenios Vliagoftis, member of the Greek Ecclesiastical Commission Against Heresies, which considers the Greek Rumi Committee a sect (number 105 on the Commission’s list) and claims that the “heresies” which it propagates “threaten to corrupt [Greece's] religious and national identities". The sentence against Professor Alexiou not only contradicts Article 13, paragraph 1 of the Greek Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of religion and expression, but also the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms which Greece ratified in 1974. The Amnesty International public statement is dated 5th December 2005. The appeal was due to be heard the following day. I have not been able to find out if he won his appeal. However, should the sentence be confirmed at the appeal hearing and Professor Alexiou imprisoned, Amnesty International would consider him to be a prisoner of conscience and would call for his immediate and unconditional release. I will update when I find out.

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At 1/11/2006 10:37:00 AM, Blogger buruburu said...

Oh dear, this is very disturbing. I don't believe it. I have been a reader of Rumi's poetry for many years and it is so so harmless. Even if it wasn't, the damn church has no business doing this
Diva, it is unclear from the above statement who exactly charged him, and if he has been tried. As pointed out it is against the constitution for people to be prosecuted for their beliefs so how is that possible?

At 1/11/2006 01:03:00 PM, Blogger buruburu said...

I just read the amnesty statement and I am shocked.

At 1/11/2006 02:36:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Hi buruburu,
The person who brought charges against him is undisclosed but the witness (on whose testimony, I assume, he was convicted) was the monk Arsenios Vliagoftis, member of the Greek Ecclesiastical Commission Against Heresies.

You are right though. The church has no business doing this.

Did you know that Greece is also the only European Country that bans proselytism? (It generally describes attempts to convert a person from one point of view to another, usually in a religious context)

Greece has a long history of conflict, mostly with Jehovah's Witnesses but also with some Pentecostals over its laws on proselytism. This situation stems from a law passed in the 1930s by the dictator Ioannis Metaxas. A Jehovah's Witness, Minos Kokkinakis, won the equivalent of US $14,400 in damages from the Greek state after being arrested repeatedly for the 'offence' of preaching his faith from door to door. In another case, Larissis vs. Greece, a member of the Pentecostal church also won a case in the European Court of Human Rights.

If you are interested there is more on these past cases and others here and here

At 1/11/2006 07:55:00 PM, Blogger buruburu said...

Diva i'm running around like crazy today. Will have update on your post later when i get home and have more time. The other site is greek only but i will mirror + add my breath to my adventure blog. Be back later.

At 1/11/2006 10:26:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

OK you, look forward to hearing from you. Don't stress yourself. There's more to life than blogging. Check you later. DD

At 1/12/2006 12:52:00 AM, Blogger buruburu said...

DD may I call you DD? Anyway, yes this story has come to close to home for me to just stand there and do nothing about it. When I was a student in Cairo I go to learn about Sufism and attended several events and concerts related to dervishes and Sufism, read a lot of literature and a lot of Rumi.And I have always admired this movement as the bright shiny example of how the seemingly barbaric to some Islam has parts of it that are so perfectly simple and easy for any citizen of the world anytime anyplace to relate to - hence its amazing popularity through time. I'm not a very big fan of the greek church in general but this event really was like a kick in the ****.
Anyway. I've been wanting to do something in greek as well to communicate to all those grecians (spelling intended) out there that seem to be put off with the english thing and it is also a good chance for me to practice my greek even through the help of a spellchecker. We'll see how it goes. With your permission i'll be looking at your blog for inspiration - and your all watchful eye on current events. I don't have the intellectual stamina at the moment to do a fully fledged human rights watch like yours but i'll do my bit when I can. So no commitments but plenty of enthusiasm.

The blog will be in greek only.

So welcome to ellanistan

For related greek blogs i'd strongly recommend Gazmend's blog (greek)

Part of his bio I found online:
Gazmend Kapllani migrated from Albania to Greece in 1991, at the age of 18, and has since been residing legally as student. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Athens (1997). He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Political Science and History of Panteion University, in Athens, with a state scholarship. His thesis topic is “Modernity and otherness: the image of Albanians in the Greek press and of Greeks in the Albanian press.” As a journalist, he has been working for the largest daily “Ta Nea,” the state radio NET 105.8, Albania’s daily Koha Jone, and the IWPR’s Balkan Crisis Report. He is also the founder of the NGO “Home of Albanian Culture,” a member of the extra-parliamentary center-left party AEKA, and has been the most vocal advocate on migrant issues in the Greek media.

You probably know of him already but in case you don't the guy is really amazing and even though an albanian immigrant his greek is much better than mine. I have also found him to be very humble in his writings and resposes which has inspired in me a great respect for him.


At 1/12/2006 03:48:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest I'd not heard of this topic until you raised it Diva.

I'm also grateful to BuruBuru for providing some more information about it on his new blog.

I think the last line of buruburu's post basically says it for me too... "Today I'm ashamed to live in such a country".

I'm actually ashamed of myself for not knowing anything about this imprisonment before today but I plan to take the action Amnesty requests.

At 1/12/2006 01:22:00 PM, Blogger adfjkaj said...

Ellas D: That is part of the issues I see in Greece. Many are aware of Abu Graib, Guantanemo, but unaware of domestic problems.

Again, as I've always said, the media plays a part in what is brought to the public. Anti-Greek topics don't get much play in Greece.

I found it quite comical when the world media was criticizing the Greeks for their Olympic prep. Most of my Greek friends said, "The world media is exagerating". I said, "Welcome to my world" and now you know what it feels like to be an American with all the bad press we receive.

At 1/12/2006 02:15:00 PM, Blogger deviousdiva said...

Hi buruburu, yes, call me DD by all means. It's when people change people's id's to insult them that I get mad. I had found the blog of Gazmend Kapllani but thanks for reminding me. I will do a post in a while to direct people to both of your blogs. Best of luck with ellanistan and I am honoured that you find inspiration here. Thanks.

Ellasdevil, I will post any Amnesty action or update as soon as I find out.

Scruffy american, I think the world media did exaggerate but there was some truth behind the critisisms. Most countries like to downplay their own faults don't you think? When I critisise England to my English friends they do get quite defensive. I do believe though, it is our job as citizens to question the actions of our governments. Who knows what they would get up to if we didn't!

At 1/12/2006 02:35:00 PM, Blogger adfjkaj said...


I do believe though, it is our job as citizens to question the actions of our governments.

I hear what you are saying, but I tend to be like your English friends toward criticism of the US government, but hey if I hang out on the blogs long enough, I'll quit being the sensitive little buttercup that I am.

At 1/13/2006 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Seems like the junta days.

At 1/13/2006 05:42:00 PM, Anonymous Eff said...

I just find it amazing that there's a commission against church heresies.

At 1/13/2006 06:40:00 PM, Anonymous Eff said...

"The lawyer for the Greek government explained that the law was necessary to keep other religions in check, and that since 1960, the Jehovah's Witnesses has greatly increased in numbers in Greece."

It's apparently not a verbatim quote, but assuming nothing has been taken out of context, what the hell does that mean? I'd like the lawyer to answer.

"2. By ‘proselytism’ is meant, in particular, any direct or indirect attempt to intrude on the religious beliefs of a person of a different religious persuasion (eterodoxos), with the aim of undermining those beliefs, either by any kind of inducement or promise of an inducement or moral support or material assistance, or by fraudulent means or by taking advantage of the other person’s inexperience, trust, need, low intellect or naivete."

My understanding is that many religious persons usually promote their religions to a general audience or go at random to otheres to attempt to convert them, sometimes back to former members of their faith to get them back. How often should they be expected to be aware of the "inexperience, trust, need, low intellect or naivete" of those they are proselytizing, so as to know to cease doing so?

I'll look through more of it later.

At 2/01/2006 10:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

zardoz says:
Didnt know about the proffesor
and of course its a shame
and positively have no idea on RUMI ?
of course the professor has been wronged,

and that is why the separation of church and state is imperative as ever in greece

supposedly greece is the last THEOCRATIC state of goverment in the world
along with the ex-taliban. how much lower can you get,...HAPPY SCRUFFY,

of course there are economical reasons why it hasnt been done yet
THE FACT that the greek orthodox church owns 20 percent of all greek land
and 40 percent of the NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE were the whole banking system
rest on AND of course the whole countries and the goverments money .

so take that in mind.

and very well said it is protected constitutionally,...the church.

unlike the U.S. constitution which dosnt say anything about abu graib,guantanamo,
or even the 450,000 japanese-americans put in concentration camps duting world war II
when released , had all their money and land taken away.
on constitution themes i think scruffy you really have to take a good look.
noone is saying were in paradise,
but you and me didnt come from one either

by the way i did read mr kaplanis blog
and there was an incredible two piece article
WHICH helps to explain many historical and political injustices
locally , internationally.
some i had trouble lettin thru my system , but he has a way with words
and he does sound like a more logic scruffy only writes in greek .


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