Greek Deputy Minister of Justice, Costas Karagounis, will propose a bill in the coming days in the Greek parliament outlawing any racial, religious, ethnic or homophobic incitement, to be punishable from 3 months up to 6 years in prison or a 20,000 euro fine. The same punishments would apply to Holocaust denial and the Nazi salute. This is according to David Saltiel, the leader of the Greek Jewish community, who announced it this morning at the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest.
The proposed bill, which will not exclude members of parliament, comes after efforts were made by the WJC to Greek officials in Thessaloniki, Greece last month following the rise of anti-Semitism in the country and the increasing popularity of the far-right Golden Dawn Party, which went from an obscure, right-wing neo-Nazi political party to the third largest party in Greece’s parliament and one that maintains a 10-12% in opinion polls. By not giving parliamentary immunity, the proposed bill could imprison or punish members of the Golden Dawn Party if they were to break the law. The bill also states that if a parliamentary party chief were to be found to be in violation of the proposed law, public funding for that party would be suspended.
“The economic misery in Greece has played a huge role in certain people blaming immigrants for the problems Greece is facing, but I’m very excited about the progress this bill shows. It could not have been done without the immediate reaction of World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder and European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor to stand against the Golden Dawn Party,” said Saltiel, who was elected on Monday as Deputy Vice President of the new WJC Executive Committee. “This played a significant role, together with the Greek Jewish community, to explain to our officials how we feel. This was not only good for Jews but also good for democracy.”