Catholics fined over ‘Jesus excrement’ protest

A group of Catholic protestors in France were fined thousands of euros on Friday for interrupting and throwing smoke bombs at a 'blasphemous' piece of theatre, which featured the face of Christ being covered in fake excrement.

Catholics fined over 'Jesus excrement' protest
"Christ stoned, Christians insulted." A Catholic group protests in Paris in October 2011, against a 'blasphemous' play featuring Christ's face covered in fake excrement. Photo: Alexander Klein/AFP

The court in Paris convicted the 32 on charges of obstructing freedom of expression over the incident in October 2011.

The group had stormed into the Theatre de la Ville, on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame Cathedral, during a performance of "On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God", directed by Italian Romeo Castellucci.

The protesters had climbed on the stage, chanted and shouted, with some throwing smoke bombs. Three of the protesters were fined between €1,500 and €2,000, and the others between €600 and €800.

Prosecutors had requested fines of up to €5,000 each. Their lawyers said they would appeal.

"It's a lot to pay for shit!" said a lawyer for the defendants, François Souchon, saying that his clients also had a right to freedom of expression.

A lawyer for the city of Paris, which had lodged a joint complaint with the theatre against the protesters, said the court's ruling was a victory for freedom of speech.

"This decision recognises the supremacy of access to public culture and the absolute right to freedom of expression," Alexis Gublin said.

The play was the story of an incontinent man being looked after by his son. 

A copy of a huge portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Antonello da Messina hung at the back of the stage and appeared to be covered in excrement near the end of the performance.

Catholic groups said the imagery was deeply offensive and demanded the play be cancelled, though the association of French Roman Catholic bishops condemned the disruptive protest.

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French minster orders closure of Cannes mosque over anti-Semitic remarks

France's interior minister said on Wednesday he had ordered the closure of a mosque on the French Riviera because of anti-Semitic remarks made there.

The French riviera town of Cannes
The French riviera town of Cannes. Photo: Joel Saget/AFP

Gerald Darmanin said the mosque in the seaside city of Cannes was also guilty of supporting CCIF and BarakaCity, two associations that the government dissolved at the end of last year for spreading “Islamist” propaganda.

Darmanin told broadcaster CNews that he had consulted with the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, before shutting down the mosque.

The move comes two weeks after authorities closed a mosque in the north of the country because of what they said was the radical nature of its imam’s preaching.

The mosque in Beauvais, a town of 50,000 people some 100 kilometres north of Paris, was shut for six months because the sermons there incited hatred and violence and “defend jihad”, authorities said.

Last October, a mosque in Allonnes, 200 kilometres west of Paris, was closed also for six months for sermons defending armed jihad and “terrorism”, according to regional authorities.

The French government announced last year that it would step up checks of places of worship and associations suspected of spreading radical Islamic propaganda.

The crackdown came after the October 2020 murder of teacher Samuel Paty, who was targeted following an online campaign against him for having shown controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during a civics class.

In the interview on Wednesday, the interior minister said that 70 mosques in France were considered to be “radicalised”.

According to the ministry, there are a total of 2,623 mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the country.