A group of some fifty people gathered outside the Aristoteleion Theater in downtown Thessaloniki on Wednesday evening in an effort to hinder the performance of play “The Hour of the Devil” by Portuguese author Fernando Pessoa. The religious fanatics and nationalists claimed the play is a “blasphemy” against Orthodoxy.
Holding Greek flags, banners reading “Orthodoxy or Death”, icons and even a wooden Jesus on the Cross, the fanatics claimed they were members of an organization using the name “Sacred Band” with reference to military troops in Ancient Greece and during the independence struggle against the Ottoman Empire.
They chanted slogans in favor of Orthodoxy and the Greek nation, sang the National Anthem and religious hymns. One of their main slogans was “Masons, get out of Greece.”
“It is satanism a woman told me,” one of the protesters told reporters. Protesters claimed the play was showing Virgin Marycoupling the devil.
It was interesting to see among the protesters the self-proclaimed “Father” Kleomenis who called the play “blasphemy.”
Kleomenis gained publicity a couple of months ago when he vandalized the Holocaust Memorial in Larissa. The Greek Church distanced from him saying he was not a priest, the prosecutor filed charges against the hate-preacher.
At some point they tried to approach the theater building. They were pushed back by police forces deployed outside the theater.
Well-known actor and protagonist Giorgos Hraniotis told local media “it is more than funny to see people protesting the play by Fernando Pessoa, it has nothing to do with satanism or similar practices.” He described the protest as “practices from the Middle Ages.”
“It is the first time I hear Pessoa was a blasphemist,” the play director said.
Members of the theater group said they have been receiving threats.
According to media, the para-religious, nationalist “Sacred Band” had attacked the Gay Pride in Thessaloniki earlier this year. Local media speak also of “nationalists organizations” and some call them “Christian-Talibans”.
Protesters did not reach their goal, the performance started as scheduled.
Nationalists website wrote about the play that it is “art in the service of the industry of darkness.”
The group plans to launch another protest today.
It is not the first time para-religious and nationalists groups protest outside theaters when they mind the plays insult the “sacred Greek ethics.”