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Bishops criticise play in which Jesus rapes Muslim at festival

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Brno, April 19 (CTK) – Czech bishops have distanced themselves from the performance “Our Violence and Your Violence,” in which Jesus rapes a Muslim woman, in the programme of the May theatre festival in Brno, in a letter they sent to Brno Mayor Petr Vokral (ANO) and released on their website on Thursday.

Because of the city’s support for the theatre festival, the bishops cannot agree with their auspices of another municipal project marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s birth, they said on the website.

Martin Glaser, director of the Brno National Theatre that organises the World of Theatre festival, reacted by saying that this festival and the Re:publika festival, which the church refused to join, are two separate events though both are supported by the Brno City Hall.

“They are each prepared by a different city-run organisation and different people…It is absurd to punish the city of Brno or the Re:publika festival for the fact that the World of Theatre festival is also held in the city,” Glaser said.

He apologised to the organisers of Re:publika and said the application of the eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth principle is “more than strange.”

The controversial performance, directed by Croat Oliver Frljic, is staged jointly by the Croat National Theatre in Rijeka and the Slovenian Mladinsko Theatre in Ljubljana.

Cardinal Dominik Duka, primate of the Czech Catholic Church, called the play “the sale of Christianity and its ideals.” He also said this concept offended not only Christians, but also Muslims and all Czechs.

The bishops of the Roman Catholic dioceses and the Apostolic Exarch representing the Greek Catholic Church dealt with the theatre performance at the plenary session of the Czech Bishops’ Conference in Nitra, west Slovakia.

In the past days, the festival organiser, the National Theatre in Brno, rejected the effort to withdraw the performance from the programme, which the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and Communists (KSCM) demanded in the municipal assembly.

Festival director Martin Glaser stressed that the topic of this year’s festival was freedom. Though Frljic’s performance is an extreme art expression, this is a legitimate part of theatre, he said.

The audience must be given a chance to see it or ignore it and primarily to create their own opinion about the performance, Glaser said in his statement.

The performance offers a view of Europe taken unawares by the migrant crisis. It asks unpleasant questions about religion, Europe’s stance on the situation in the Middle East and different approaches to terrorist attacks in Europe, Baghdad and Kabul in a provocative way, the festival programme managers say.

The performance for 200 viewers scheduled for May 26 is sold out.

It cannot be ruled out that police will be patrolling around the theatre during the performance as information about possible protests emerged on social networks.

On Wednesday, Orthodox priest Libor Halik, who often protests against abortion, was standing with a big wooden cross outside the Husa na Provazku theatre where the controversial play would be shown.

On the other hand, colleagues from other theatres have supported the Brno festival organisers.

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