Blasphemy laws are alive and kicking in Greece and the clergy uses them against theater groups daring the production of a 50-year-old rock opera, the famous Jesus Christ Superstar. The Metropolit of Kythera filed a lawsuit against the actors of an Athens-based theater production for “presenting our Lord Jesus Christ as a member of the community of Hippies, a community identified with sex orgies and drugs use.”
The lawsuit was filed just a couple of days after the premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar in “Acropol” Theater in Athens on February 9th.
The Metropolit of Kythera asks for the immediate interruption of the theater production as the actors present Jesus Christ as a member of the Hippies community. the lawsuit is based on Articles 198 and 199 of the Penal Code for “malicious blasphemy” and the “restraint of religion” and putting the social peace at risk.
The show contains elements that constitute “a severe defamation of the Orthodox religion and extreme blasphemy” of Jesus Christ.
Previous to the lawsuit, Metropolit Seraphim had called to the Prosecutor’s Office at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Athens and had denounced the theater play thus requesting that the Prosecutor takes necessary actions to stop the show immediately.
As die Prosecutor did nothing, the Metropolit filed the lawsuit. On the same day, three more lawsuits against the play were filed. Two by lawyers in Athens and one by a clergyman.
It is worth noting that so far there has been no reaction on the part of the Justice.
But there has been reaction by the Greek Union for Human Rights that describe the provision of the penal code as “blatantly hypocritical” and speaks of the necessity to defend the freedom of speech and arts.