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Society

Church Probes Why Funeral Bells Tolled for Tsipras on Ithaca

August 23, 2018

ATHENS – Mocked in the media for going to the island of Ithaca to claim credit for an economic recovery with three international bailouts of 326 billion euros ($376.87 billion) ending on Aug. 20, Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras was greeted there by the tolling of funeral bells, leading Church officials to order an investigation.

“We were informed of the unfortunate incident of the tolling of the bells on Ithaca’s churches during the visit of His Excellency, the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, to the island,” a statement from the metropolitan diocese of Lefkada and Ithaca said.

“The diocese had no knowledge of this initiative, which did not have the blessing nor the permission of His Eminence, the Metropolitan Bishop of Lefkada and Ithaca, Theophilos, who accords the appropriate respect to the institutional role and person of the Prime Minister and, recognizing all elected representatives ‘worthy of all honor,’ condemns such activities.”

On these grounds, a church investigation had been initiated, the statement concluded, said Kathimerini.

That came as SYRIZA, which has refused to let government officials appear on SKAI TV it blames for being biased against them, again fired a broadside when the station tweeted a play on Greek words to ridicule Tsipras’ appearance on Ithaca, which he chose as symbolic for also marking the end of Odysseus’ return from the Trojan War and Greece ending more than eight years of resuce packages from creditors.

SKAI’s Twitter feed was accompanied by the hashtag “παραμΙΘΑΚΗ” (paramithaki), a word play combining Ithaca – the Ionian island identified with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey – and the Greek word “paramithi”, which means fable or bedtime story. “Paramithaki”, in this case, is a “little story”, or more metaphorically, a “small lie,” said the business newspaper Naftemporiki.

That led to the hashtag being picked up and spreading on social media, making a parody of Tsipras’ national TV appearance from the island where he again brought a hand-picked camera crew and barred reporters as he often does. He does not give news conferences.

A furious SYRIZA response came. “Accompanying the Twitter post by the news station Skai, regarding reports of a government reshuffle, with the hashtag “παραμΙθάκη” justifies, once again, SYRIZA’s decision to abstain from its (SKAI) programs… it’s not a news channel, but an appendage of ND and the latter’s paid trolls,” a statement by the ruling party read.

ND is a reference to main opposition New Democracy party which has taken big leads in polls after Tsipras constantly reneged on anti-austerity promises and his going to hit pensioners with more cuts starting Jan. 1, 2019, an election year.

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