AMNESTY International is calling on the Greek authorities to protect freedom of expression by binning the blasphemy charges brought against everyone involved in Terrence McNally’s play, Corpus Christi.
A production of the play in Athens was cancelled after weeks of almost daily protests outside the theatre where it was being staged by priests and right-wing groups, including deputies from the ultra-nationalist Golden Dawn party.
The lawsuit is understood to have been instigated by the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Seraphim of Piraeus who claims that the play contains blasphemous messages, interpreted to include insinuations of homosexuality for figures revered by Christians.
Said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s programme Director for Europe and Central Asia:
This is an alarming development for freedom of expression in Greece especially following the prosecution of the journalist Kostas Vaxevanis a few weeks ago after he published the names of more than 2,000 Greeks with Swiss bank accounts.
The right to freedom of religion does not extend to having one’s religious beliefs protected by the state against criticism or commentary.
The Greek authorities must immediately and unconditionally drop the charges against the play’s producers and cast and fully respect freedom of expression.
David Jenkins, who runs the Anglican Samizdat blog is against the prosecution too, and said of the play:
The whole thing is so patently absurd that, were it not for the fact that it upsets Christians, no-one would pay any attention to it.
But it does upset Christians and it has upset the Greek Orthodox Bishop, Seraphim of Piraeus enough for him to launch a lawsuit against the production for ‘insulting religion’ and ‘malicious blasphemy’.
I think this is a mistake: the play deserves all the obscurity it can get.
Since I believe in the importance of free speech, Terrence McNally who, coincidentally is married to another – much younger – man, is entitled to say what he likes about whom he likes.
Just as I am entitled to refer to Terrence McNally as a snivelling, pusillanimous pile of parrot droppings who doesn’t have the guts to give Mohammed a similar treatment and has to make do with a catamite because no woman would have him – if I so choose.
Ooooh. Get her!
The Bishop is quite a litigious old bugger. In April this year he filed suit against Athens Archbishop Nikolaos Foskolos for allegedly violating the Greek constitution by running a Catholic school in Piraeus.
He cited Article 13 of Greece’s constitution, which prohibits proselytism. He was then accused by the Catholics of “intolerance” and “fanaticism”. Ha!
I have no idea how the case panned out and I really can’t be asked find out. Taking the dogs out for a walk is a much more pressing concern.