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    Greek leftist leader ridicules claim that 'divine' cross appeared during baptism

    Stefanos Kasselakis, 36-year-old head of the Syriza party Photo: Nicholas Koutsokostas/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

    Left parties in Greece The opposition leader was ridiculed for that he claimed that a divine cross appeared during his baptism as an infant.

    Stephanos Kasselakis, the 36-year-old head of the Syriza party, said this week that the oil in his baptismal cross The font magically fused into the shape at his baptism several decades ago.

    The mystical sign meant he was destined to “become either a priest or a very important man,” as he said his parents were told at the time.

    He achieved the latter – first making his fortune as a banker with the help of Goldman Sachs, which then became a shipowner and finally emerged from relative obscurity last September to win the leadership of Syriza, Greece's main opposition force.

    The response from political rivals was swift.

    Nikos Androulakis, leader of the socialist Pasok party, joked that when he was baptized, a green sun appeared – the symbol of his party.

    Euclid Tsakalotos of the New Left also weighed in. , saying a hammer and sickle was seen at his party leader's baptism.

    Mr Kasselakis' comments also raised eyebrows in his own party, some of which are unhappy with his banking background and close ties to the US, where he lived for more than 20 years. They see him as sharply at odds with the party's strict left-wing traditions.

    “This reference to miracles was slightly shocking,” said prominent Syriza member Giorgos Tsipras. “The (Greek) left has never performed miracles in its political discourse. A rationalist does not talk about these things.”

    Devastating split

    The alienation felt by some Syriza members led to a devastating split in November, when 11 MPs left the party to form a rival group.

    The left faction accused Mr Kasselakis of abandoning his core ideology and instead embracing “Trump practices and right-wing populism”.

    Mr Kasselakis was elected leader of Syriza after the party experienced crisis and humiliating defeat in last summer's general election. The ruling New Democracy party, led by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, won the election.

    Mr. Kasselakis has said he wants to create an equivalent of the US Democratic Party in Greece and often speaks out in support of business. statements.

    He also took responsibility for the landmark new law legalizing same-sex marriage and adoption passed by the government in February.

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