A 27-year-old man has been arrested by Greek police for what the authorities called "malicious blasphemy," according to a HuffPost translation of a press release.
Police allege that the man managed a Facebook page that lampooned the deceased Eastern Orthodox monk Elder Paisios, a widely popular religious figure, using the name "Gerontas (Elder) Pastitsios."
Pastitsios is a Greek pasta dish, and the page parodied the monk and his work in the vein of Pastafarianism, a lighthearted, satirical movement that promotes irreligion. In a screen shot of the group's Facebook page, which now appears to have been removed from the social network, Elder Paisios is shown with a plate of pastitsios.
The unidentified man was arrested at his home in Athens on Friday following complaints received by the Greek police's "Cyber Crimes" bureau. Police confiscated the man's laptop and "determined that he was indeed the person who created and managed" the Facebook page, according to a HuffPost translation of the Greek police press release.
According to Reddit user "DeSaad," who posted a thread about the arrest to the social news site, the manager of the page used it to publish satirical images and articles about the Greek Orthodox faith and Elder Paisios. The Redditor claimed that this angered members of the Greek right-wing political party Golden Dawn, who called for the man's arrest under Greece's anti-blasphemy laws.
However, a Digital Journal translation of a Greek news source claims that the Facebook page was under investigation prior to the political party's condemnation of it.
The arrest has sparked outrage across the Internet. The hashtag #FreeGeronPastitios trended strongly on the Greek Twittersphere, Business Insider reports.
A petition addressed to the Greek parliament demands the immediate release of the accused man and the abolishment of anti-blasphemy laws in Greece.
Blasphemy in Greece carries a fine of up to 3,000 euros (about $3,800), and up to 2 years imprisonment, according to Change.org.
Pastafarianism, also known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is a parody religion founded in the United States that opposes, among other things, the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools.
Also on HuffPost:
A Strict Agnostic Household
Taken from his parents by child protective services and placed in a foster home, Kenny is in for a rude awakening in the final episode of Season 15. But he can't be too sure. Of anything.
The Passion Of The Jew
This 2004 episode took dead aim at Mel Gibson's blockbuster flick, <em>The Passion of The Christ</em>. In typical South Park fashion, the episode captures the unreasonably strong reaction on both sides of the film and offers a lesson on what's really important about the life of Jesus: how he lived and what he taught.
Red Hot Catholic Love
In Season 6, Parker and Stone ruthlessly went after the Catholic Church in the midst of the growing sexual abuse scandals. In the episode, South Park's Father Maxi causes the Vatican to literally crumble when he rails against the insularity and stubbornness of the church hierarchy. Once again, the joke is on the abusive and hypocritical religious institutions, rather than religious belief itself.
Fantastic Easter Special
It's hard to get more blasphemous than claiming that St. Peter was actually a rabbit, but a moral is still salvaged -- "No one man could speak for everyone in a religion."
Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo
In one of the episodes that cemented the show as a cultural phenomenon, Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo was pitch-perfect in balancing religious irreverence with a reminder of what the holiday season should be all about. The first, and best, of a long string of entertaining Christmas episodes.
All About the Mormons
When a family of Mormons, the Johnson's, move to town, Stan's family learns the story of how the Mormon faith was founded by Joseph Smith. Despite the unbelievable nature of the story, the Johnson's are enthusiastic about their faith. The moral of the episode is revealed when Stan rejects the Johnson's because he thinks Mormonism is dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. Gary admonishes him, saying that the value of their faith is in the way it inspires them to act, not in the origin story.
Christian Rock Hard
When Eric and Kyle make a bit on whose band can make a platinum album first, Cartman hatches a cynical plan to reach the top of the Christian Rock charts. Although he is wildly successful with some atrociously shallow material, the episode comes down on the side of justice when it is revealed that Christian artists go "myrrh" instead of platinum.
Trapped In The Closet
Even while ridiculing the apparent absurdities of Scientology, South Park goes deeper by reminding the audience that the group is just another example of people trying desperately to seek answers to the big questions of human existence.
Go God Go
This multi-part episode showed that South Park reserves no special status for atheists. When Cartman travels to the future, he's confronted by a violent war between rival atheist factions. The episode also includes a hilarious but less-than-flattering appearance by Richard Dawkins.
Are You There God? It's Me, Jesus
This season 3 episode focused on the hysteria leading up to the turn of the new millennium and found Jesus faced with a resurgent popularity. In the end, an appearance by God himself was needed in order to give everyone a firm, "settle down."
This early episode stages the ultimate battle between good and evil when the son of Satan shows up at school. With Jesus as the heavy underdog in a bout with the Prince of Darkness, the people of South Park learn that betting on evil just doesn't pay.