This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of June, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 18 June 2019
Media Outlet: Vima Orthodoxias (‘Orthodox Tribune’) is a website which reports on ecclesiastical issues as well as overall religious and social content
Author: Kalavrita Ambrosios
Headline: “Bishop Amvrosios of Kalavryta: Fire and hail are signs from God”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: The news outlet Vima Orthodoxias published a piece by Bishop Amvrosios, which was written as a letter of complaint by the Bishop to the general public. In the piece, the Bishop takes a strong position against the Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs, Mr. Gavroglou. The Bishop claims that recent unstable weather phenomena are signs of God being against the government, a government which has recently updated the penal code, made changes to its relationship with the church and proceeded with changes to the educational system. Ecclesiastical issues in Greece are mainly handled by the Ministry of Education, especially issues related to the appointment of clerics or issues related to religion courses in the education system. Bishop Amvrosios, who has a high level rank in the Church of Greece, denounces the minister claiming that he, the PM and SYRIZA Party are “atheists and antichrists who murder us.” He claims that Mr. Gavroglou is a “Minister-Protector of Islam who bears the Koran in his hands and who wears a red scarf.” He criticises the construction of the first mosque in Athens, which was inaugurated last week by the Minister.
Bishop Amvrosios is well known for his radical and racist statements. In 2015 he targeted the LGBTI community stating that “the scum of the society took the upper hand” and invited his audience to spit on them. He has been convicted by a court decision in January 2019 of public incitement to racist violence and for misappropriating his ecclesiastic position.
Myth debunked: Throughout the piece, the Bishop cites various newspapers and articles to support his claims. However, the cited material is largely from far-right outlets such as Makeleio or Eleftheri Ora. They are two platforms which Get The Trolls Out! reported on in the past due to their inflammatory nature and the misinformation they publish. At one point in the article, the Bishop welcomes legal action undertaken by Mr. Pantelidou against the construction of a mosque. A Greek Orthodox Church was allegedly knocked-down to make space for this mosque, as reported by Eleftheri Ora. However, this was soon proved to be untrue and extremely misleading by fact-checking website Ellinika Hoaxes, which provided evidence that a ‘self-identified’ priest occupied an old building in Botanikos prior its demolition, claiming it as an Orthodox Church. It was later shown that the Church of Greece does not recognise the self-proclaimed church of Panagia Eleftherotria or any of its ‘bishops.’ Despite this news being proved as fake, Bishop Amvrosios still uses it in his article to prove the government’s supposed appeasement of Islam. The overall narrative of the piece takes a strong anti-Muslim stance, claiming that the Greek government is in a nefarious partnership with Islam. This is particularly worrying coming from a religious figure given a voice on a prominent religious platform. We can assume that some look to Bishop Amvrosios as an authoritative figure given his religious position, and could therefore adopt this narrative easily despite it being largely based on misinformation.
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