We all know the pattern by now: Muslims get upset about something that offends their religious sensibilities, some of them get violent, a few moderate Muslims may or may not give a token, “Oh, that’s awful, but I hope no one discriminates against Muslims because of this,” they get their way, and anyone who complains about it is accused of hating Islam even as it’s strenuously denied that the event had anything to do with their religion.
The problem with that, of course, has been that every time Muslims get their way in that fashion, it encourages them to do it again. Of course, there’s another peril of allowing that strategy to work that many people haven’t considered. What if people from other religions start doing the exact same thing?
When New York artist Andres Serrano plunged a plastic crucifix into a glass of his own urine and photographed it in 1987 under the title Piss Christ, he said he was making a statement on the misuse of religion.
Controversy has followed the work ever since, but reached an unprecedented peak on Palm Sunday when it was attacked with hammers and destroyed after an “anti-blasphemy” campaign by French Catholic fundamentalists in the southern city of Avignon.
…Civitas, a lobby group that says it aims to re-Christianize France, launched an online petition and mobilised other fundamentalist groups. The staunchly conservative archbishop of Vaucluse, Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, called Piss Christ “odious” and said he wanted this “trash” taken off the gallery walls. Last week the gallery complained of “extremist harassment” by fundamentalist Christian groups who wanted the work banned in France.
….On Saturday, around 1,000 Christian protesters marched through Avignon to the gallery. The protest group included a regional councillor for the extreme-right Front National, which recently scored well in the Vaucluse area in local elections. The gallery immediately stepped up security, putting plexiglass in front of the photograph and assigning two gallery guards to stand in front of it.
But on Palm Sunday morning, four people in sunglasses aged between 18 and 25 entered the exhibition just after it opened at 11am. One took a hammer out of his sock and threatened the guards with it.