Filippos Loizos, a 27-year-old from the island of Evia has been given a ten month suspended prison sentence for the crime of ‘blasphemy with malicious intent’ by a Greek court provoking a storm of disbelief and condemnation on social media sites such as Twitter.

The subject of the prosecution was a popular Facebook page run by Loizos titled ‘Geron [Elder] Pastitsios’. The name was a play on the name of Elder Paisios, a now deceased monk of the Greek Orthodox Church considered a modern-day miracle worker by some, and ‘Pastafarianism’ – the satirical faux-religion of the ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ established as a method of countering claims of divine intervention such as Creationism. Pastistio is a Greek pasta based dish somewhat similar to lasagne.

Aside from the fact that the ruling against Loizos appears grossly anachronistic, more appropriate to a time when the EU wasn’t even a glint in Christendom’s eye, of particular concern is that Loizos’s prosecution appears to have come at the instigation of the neo-fascist party Golden Dawn indicating the influence the extreme right wing group is capable of exerting.

In 2012 Golden Dawn MP Christos Pappas submitted a question to parliament declaring the Elder Pastitsios Facebook page ‘insulting, mocking and an attempt to humiliate the holy figure of Greek Orthodoxy, Elder Paisios.’ Loizos was later arrested at his home in September of 2012 by members of the electronic crime unit of the Greek police provoking intense reactions from many claiming that the arrest violated the principle of free speech.

Incidentally Christos Pappas is now also currently imprisoned pending trial as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations that Golden Dawn constitutes a criminal organization.

Mr Loizos has claimed that the target of his page was not Elder Paisios himself but those who have distorted his message to further self-serving aims that clearly run counter to the monk’s teachings.

Of the recent court ruling Loizos was reported as telling the Kathimerini newspaper, (link in Greek) “It was clear from the beginning that the court was not open to being convinced by my arguments. The judges were very aggressive and seemed unwilling to understand the purpose of the page. They described it as obsessive and insulting.” As expected Mr Loizos and his lawyer have launched an appeal.

Others have described the ruling as a misuse of law that was initially designed to protect religious minorities and a violation of the principle of free speech established by Greek and European law.

Meanwhile news of the ruling prompted the hashtag #FreeGeronPastistios to trend again on Twitter. The hashtag had reached number two of twitter’s worldwide trends in September 2012 following Loizos’s arrest.