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Greek Author Faces Trial for Slurring Muslims, Cited Marco Polo

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Greek author Soti Triantafyllou. Photo: Eurokinissi-Stelios Stefanou.

ATHENS - Accused of racist language in a piece about Muslims, Greek author Soti Triantafyllou will go to trial on July 21 over a quote she attributed to Marco Polo - wrongly, said an accuser.

Citing Marco Polo she wrote that a moderate Muslim is  “someone who holds your head while they cut it off.”

That brought a lawsuit under Greece’s anti-racism laws from human rights activist Panayote Dimitras, who heads the Greek Helsinki Monitor and is in charge of the Racist Crimes Watch blog.

In his suit, Dimitras claims that Triantafyllou could have confirmed just by searching on the internet that the quote is fake and was never uttered by Marco Polo, said Kathimerini.

Triantafyllou blamed her accuser for taking her words out of context and said that her case highlighted the failings of the anti-racism legislation passed in 2015.

“My positions on the violence that stems from Islam are different from my positions on migrants,” she wrote in brief comment on the Liberal.gr news website.

“I am against anything extreme, whether it comes from extreme Islam or elsewhere. “This gentleman took one excerpt that nobody knew about and ignored everything else.”

She is also an historian, scholar and leading member of the modern generation of Greek writers. She is based in Athens and Paris.

Triantafyllou has worked as a columnist for 35 years. She has contributed to most Greek dailies and magazines writing about international politics. She has also worked as professor of history and film studies at the Hellenic Film School and has written a number of academic treatises.

In October, 2016 she was a speaker at the Medford, Massachusetts-based Tufts University at an event entitled Greece’s Turn? Litmus Test for Europe.