NEWS

Athens defends Mt Athos ban

Greece yesterday fended off criticism from the European Parliament regarding the ban on women entering the northern monastic community of Mount Athos. This followed the Strasbourg Parliament's adoption of its annual report on human rights in the EU, which called on Greece to abolish legislation that imposes 2 to 12-month jail terms on women caught entering the easternmost leg of the Halkidiki peninsula, from which all women have been banned for over 1,000 years. The report also urged Athens to allow the construction of mosques and Muslim cemeteries, to legalize proselytism and to ease draft terms for conscientious objectors. «The Holy Mountain is subject to... a special status regarding which an insistence on the implementation of very important principles - such as equal rights of access, unrestricted movement, free trade or competition - would be in direct confrontation with fundamental, 1,000-year-old traditions, our faith and the monastic spirit of the Mountain,» Deputy Foreign Minister Tassos Yiannitsis said.

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