MPs poised to pass anti-racism legislation

The process of passing the anti-racism bill, which punishes hate crimes, is due to be completed on Tuesday.

The vote was delayed last week after a number of parties asked for a vote by roll call, while PASOK also proposed a last-minute amendment. Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou on Friday accepted the junior coalition partner’s suggestion that punishment should be stiffened for those who commit racially motivated crimes. The change was backed by SYRIZA and Democratic Left (DIMAR).

The draft law seeks to toughen sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence. It also aims to criminalize denial of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. SYRIZA only backed one of the bill’s five articles, arguing that in some places the would-be law does not go far enough, while in others it may infringe on freedom of expression.

Specifically, the opposition party expressed concern about the government’s bid to punish those, such as members of the Muslim minority in Greece, who refuse to recognize the slaughter of Greek and Armenian Christians by Turks as genocide. Athanasiou however insisted that the bill does not target those who challenge the term but those who do so “in an insulting and ill-intentioned manner” that may lead to violence.

“Who defines what is insulting?” responded SYRIZA MP Anna Chatzisofia.

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