Court Dismisses Cardinal’s Complaint About Play Featuring Negative Depictions of Jesus

The complaint centered on a play at Brno’s Goose on a String Theatre, in which Jesus Christ is depicted raping a Muslim woman. Photo: Divadelní Svět festival.

Brno, Mar 19 (BD) – On Monday, a judge at Brno Municipal Court dismissed a complaint from Cardinal Dominik Duka and his lawyer Ronald Němec that their religious rights had been violated by two plays performed at the Brno Center of Experimental Theater last year. The case concerned Oliver Frljič’s “The Curse” and “Our Violence and Your Violence” staged as part of the Divadelní Svět [“Theatre World”] festival, organised by the Brno National Theater.

“Our Violence and Your Violence” sparked much controversy last year when it was reported that the play included a depiction of Jesus Christ raping a Muslim woman. The production was condemned by faith groups, and performances of the play at the Goose on a String Theatre were met by protests outside, and interrupted by Christian groups as well as far-right group “Slušní lidé” (Read more in our previous story from May 2018: “Extremist group interrupts controversial play on Saturday”). The main theme of last year’s “Theatre World” festival was “SVOBODA?!” [“Freedom?!”].

The police received a total of 19 complaints from the public about the show’s content.

Responding to the complaint, Judge Ondřej Sekvard commented to Czech news source Aktuálně.cz, that the characters were clearly allegories, and the play did not aim to depict the real historical character of Jesus Christ – but was instead using symbols. He further ruled that the religious rights of Duka and Němec were not affected by the play, but that if they had been personally depicted in the performance, they would be entitled to protection of their rights. Sekvard added, “I wouldn’t go [to the play] for free, but it’s not the case that I should judge the taste of the audience.”

The director of the National Theater Brno, Martin Glaser, welcomed the court’s decision. He told Aktuálně.cz, “I’m glad that common sense prevailed. I wish this was the last chapter of this story. I think most people have forgotten what happened a year ago in Brno.”

However, Duka’s lawyer Ronald Němec said to another Czech news source, “There is, for example, a ban on questioning the Holocaust; it is not possible to just write a play about anything. There are always boundaries beyond which we cannot go.” He said that in his opinion, the play in question also exceeded those boundaries, and that he expected the case to end up in the European Court of Human Rights.

Get the news first! Sign up for free to our daily newsletter here. Top stories of the day in your mailbox every morning.

Brno Daily Subscribe
Sign up for morning news in your mail