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10-03-06, 03:45 PM #1
Pressure mounts on German opera company
Pressure mounts on German opera company to stage production depicting beheading of Muhammad
BERLIN, Oct. 3 — Pressure mounted Tuesday on the Deutsche Oper Berlin to rescind the cancellation of a production that depicted the beheading of the Prophet Muhammad, with Chancellor Angela Merkel saying ''there can be no compromises'' on free speech.
In addition, Berlin's top security official suggested the cancellation was a mistake, and Germany's top Protestant cleric added his voice to those calling for the opera to be re-staged as soon as possible.
Kirsten Harms, director of Deutsche Oper Berlin, defended her decision to pull the 3-year-old production of Mozart's ''Idomeneo'' over fears of how Muslims may react to the scene, which also features the decapitations of Jesus and Buddha.
She announced the decision last week, after receiving a vague warning about possible security problems relayed to her by Berlin's state interior minister, Ehrhart Koerting.
Harms indicated that, with the right security guarantees, the opera could be re-staged, although she offered no specific promise.
She said she had been put in a difficult position after caricatures of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper ignited outrage in the Muslim world earlier this year.
''What would have happened if something had happened and we had ignored these indications?'' she asked during a discussion at the opera house. ''That also justifiably would have been cause for great indignation.''
Koerting was interrupted by heckling — and some shouts for his resignation — from the audience at the half-full opera house.
''It was probably wrong that the piece was not staged,'' he said. ''In this case, I reacted in that I took a bit too much consideration of security. That may be a mistake — but I say better a bit too much than a bit too little.''
Later, he argued that the opera should be brought back — ''we should say from our understanding of ourselves that 'Idomeneo' should be staged again at the Deutsche Oper.''
The security situation is ''no worse'' than before the debate erupted, he said.
Merkel warned last week against ''self-censorship out of fear.''
''It is not forbidden in Germany to feel hurt; you also don't have to go to the opera,'' the chancellor said Tuesday in a speech in the city of Kiel marking the anniversary of German reunification.
''But about freedom of art, freedom of speech, the press, opinion, religion, there can be no argument about that,'' Merkel added. ''There can be no compromises here.''
Germany's top Protestant cleric, Lutheran Bishop Wolfgang Huber, also called for the opera to be re-staged — but also criticized the addition of the severed heads, arguing that it showed a lack of ''thoughtfulness.''
The response to Harms' decision from Germany's Islamic community has been mixed, with some praising it and others urging Muslims to accept the role of provocation in art.
At the Mariendorfer Moschee, a mosque in Berlin's Tempelhof district, two worshippers shrugged off the controversy.
''I think it's wrong to drop it,'' said Gulsah Yilmaz, a 19-year-old history student, whose parents come from Turkey. ''If they've been playing it for years, that means it was successful or there was demand for it — that's their thing. I did not call for this.''
Hasan Akyol, a 44-year-old salesman and Turkish native, said that ''art is art'' — although religious feelings should be respected.
The decision to drop the opera ''is incomprehensible to me,'' he added. ''Why do they do this? Do they want to create trouble?''
Hans Neuenfels' production premiered in 2003 at the Deutsche Oper and was last staged there in 2004. He has refused to remove the scene, which was meant as a statement against organized religion.
Associated Press writer Stefanie von Brochowski contributed to this report.We are the thin blue line
and all the money in the world.
And no you can't have any.
10-03-06, 04:04 PM #2
"great indignation" again.. some things people say are just funny to me...
so.. let the beheadings begin...
(oh bad joke.. )http://www.allpoetry.com/Grunts%20Girl
We dallied under
Vine maples and sapling alders
Searched for lady slippers
Found blackberry riots and
An old skid road
Brought ghost ferns and
Hollows filled with
While waves wrapped
Intricate lacings of weeds
'Round mule spinners
His cyanotic eyes
Were hard enough to make
The sun turn tail and
Tender enough to attract me
To his world of illusion
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