On 28th January 2019, the extreme-right Greek newspaper Eleftheri Ora published a hate-filled front page accusing Prokopis Pavlopoulos, veteran centrist politician and current President of the Hellenic Republic, of being a “traitor in… a kippah.” The newspaper makes this accusation based on the president’s soft stand on the Prespa Agreement that put an end to the long-running dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter’s name.
One day before this front-page was published, Pavlopoulos who has Jewish origins, attended the Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorations at the Thessaloniki Music Hall. In the run-up to this Elftheri Ora shared information about planned protests against the President during this event as if to encourage attendance at these protests. Clashes with the police were reported that night with protesters targeting the President verbally. The following day, the front page in question not only accuses the president of being a traitor, but explicitly legitimizes the violent protests as an “angry mob’s attempt to lynch the president.”
Elftheri Ora has a sad and extensive record of peddling such antisemitic, but also Islamophobic and homophobic, hate. Our partner in Greece, Symbiosis has previously sent numerous complaints to its editors, urging them to remove such content. As their previous complaints were ignored, Symbiosis opted to lodge a complaint with the Journalists’ Union of Athens Daily Newspapers (ESIEA) on 14thFebruary. As a member of the Union, Elftheri Ora is bound by its Code of Conduct prohibiting antisemitic hate and incitement to violence. Specifically, Article 19 Paragraph 1 of ESIEA’s statute provides for the prosecution of disciplinary offences following a complaint made by ESIEA’s Board of Directors, a member or a third party.
In their complaint, Symbiosis argue that by linking two separate issues –the President’s acceptance of the Prespa Agreement and his assumed Jewish identity – this unprofessional piece of journalism peddles antisemitic conspiracy theories. They explain that Eleftheri Ora has singled out Pavlopoulos in its attack despite the fact that his role is ceremonial and the majority of Greek MPs voted in favour of the Prespa agreement the week before. Such baseless accusations that Jewish people secretly pull strings in politics worldwide, as Eleftheri Ora has done time and again, is one of the oldest forms of antisemitic hate. In addition, Symbiosis pointed out the link between hateful reports in the media and acts of hate in real life, such as the protests against Pavlopoulos in Thessaloniki.
ESIEA’s Diciplinary Council considered this complaint on 5thMarch but rejected it based on technicalities. Symbiosis submitted an official reply on 9thApril.