Anti-racism bill halted in tracks

The pressing need to maintain a semblance of harmony in the three-party coalition government appears to have halted a bill — due to be submitted to Parliament on Monday — that proposes tough penalties for racist or xenophobic behavior.

The draft law, which foresees fines of up to 150,000 euros for racist acts, had already been approved by a parliamentary committee. The bill, which for the first time would make offenses out of the dissemination of racist material or incitement to hatred, was only opposed by the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) and the Communist Party (KKE).

However, New Democracy later voiced objections to an amendment in the bill through its justice spokesman Nikos Dendias. The amendment seeks to lessen prison sentences for some crimes with the aim of easing overcrowding in Greek jails.

Dendias vehemently opposed this initiative and appears to have convinced his party to block the bill as a result. Commentators said it was extremely rare for a bill to be withdrawn at such a late stage in the legislative process.

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