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Protests, counter protests after 'Golgota Picnic' play ban

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 30.06.2014 09:09
A conservative MP has led a demonstration against a reading of the 'Golgota Picnic' play in Gdansk after “blasphemous” work was withdrawn from the Poznan Malta Festival amid riot fears.

Protest in Gdansk , photo: x-news.pl,

“The Penal Code in Poland says that you cannot insult or offend religious feelings. The police should respond. They cannot defend someone who is breaking the law,” Andzej Jaworski, MP for the Law and Justice (PiS) party said after members of the left wing Krytyka Polityczna group held a reading of the controversial play at the Coastal Theatre (Teatru Wybrzeże) on Saturday night in Gdansk.

Artists have been holding informal readings of the play by Argentinian playwright Rodrigo García after performances were cancelled at the Poznan Matla Festival amid fears of violent protests by nationalists and other far-right groups.

The play, depicting the life of Christ through shocking images of contemporary consumer society, was a reflection of everyday reality, playwright Garcia says, though protesters claim that it contravenes Poland's blasphemy law.

A group of artists, led by film director Agnieszka Holland issued a statement last week saying that “the decision [to ban the play in Poznan] was caused by threats from numerous groups of radicals, who announced they would cause riots in [Poznan]. We wish to clearly state that, as artists, we do not accept this type of intimidation, which is an assault against Polish and European democracy and a symptom of backwardness; which violates human rights and freedom of expression”.

In a letter to President Bronislaw Komorowski, the artists said that, as Poland celebrates 25 years of freedom since the fall of the communist regime, “freedom of speech and expression […] which are the foundations of a democratic, free state, are now seriously threatened, because of people willing to use violence to suppress freedom of speech and artistic expression”.

Nationalist and religious groups also tried to prevent readings from the play taking place in Warsaw and Bialystok.

In November 2011, Christian fundamentalists protested outside the Garonne Theatre in Toulouse against the play, which has been staged in Spain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Brazil. (pg)

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