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Church condemns Croatian Jesus-Muslim rape play

April 22, 2017

The play features a hijab-clad woman being raped by Jesus after pulling a national flag from her genitals. The Catholic Church says it was inundated with complaints from its disgusted members.

Oliver Frljics Theaterstück "Our Violence and Your Violence"
Image: marulicevidani.hnk-split.hr

A controversial play which depicts Jesus Christ raping a Muslim woman drew strong condemnation from Croatia's Catholic Church on Saturday.

A theater festival in the coastal city of Split was due to host a performance on Monday of Croatian playwright Oliver Frljic's "Our Violence and Your Violence," but the region's Archdiocese called for its cancellation.

The play discusses Europe's refugee crisis and was already staged in Croatia and other European countries.

In one scene Jesus rapes a Muslim woman wearing a hijab. Earlier in the play, a naked actress wearing a hijab pulls out a national flag from her vagina.

"We urge all those responsible ... to take steps that [the play] does not offend people and humiliate culture," the regional Archdiocese of Split said in a statement.

The play "offends God, man and nation," the Archdiocese said, adding it had "already provoked local and international condemnation."

The statement was addressed to the Ministry of Culture, Split authorities and the town's national theater, where the play was to be staged.

The Split-Makarska Archdiocese said it was inundated with complaints from its disgusted members. 

Insult to poet's memory

Marulic Days Festival is named after Croatian Renaissance poet Marko Marulic, a humanist writer whose work was heavily influenced by the Bible. The Archdiocese said hosting such a play at a festival in his honor was an insult to his memory.

A Croatian ultraconservative party announced a protest in front of the theater on Monday, saying it "offended in the most brutal way the religious and moral feelings of Christians, Muslims and other Croatian citizens."

On Friday, one of Frljic's other plays, "The Curse," drew protests in the Polish city of Warsaw. Polish police dislodged Catholic protestors from the entrance of a theater. The play featured scenes that depicted oral sex being performed on a statue of the late Polish Pope John Paul II. The statue later had a sign hung around its neck labeling him a protector of pedophiles.

The Polish Powszechny theater said in a statement that "the show gives the floor to various ideological positions and must be analyzed as an integral artistic work and not a set of scenes apart, unrelated."

Poland's conservative Law and Justice party in 2016 slammed a Polish production of "Our Violence and Your Violence," saying it contained "pornography and blasphemy."

About 90 percent of Croatia's 4.2 million citizens identify as Roman Catholic, according to the 2011 census.

aw/jlw (AFP, FENA)