Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Spanish musician prosecuted for blasphemy

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Ismael Valladolid Torres, a Madrid-based New Humanist reader who writes his own Spanish humanist blog, "La media hostia" (roughly translated, it means "Half a wafer"), got in touch to inform me about the prosecution for blasphemy of Javier Krahe (pictured), a well-known Spanish singer-songwriter and artist. Naturally, the story sounded of interest to us, so I asked Ismael to fill me in, as there is little online about it in English. Here's his account:
Javier Krahe is one of the most popular left wing singer-songwriters in Spain, but he also likes to express himself in other artistic ways.
In 1978 he recorded this funny and admittedly blasphemous clip called "Cooking Christ". You can see how Christ is cut up, spread with butter and put into the oven, before getting out on the third day. A delicious dish!

On 15 December 2004, Spanish channel Canal+ showed the clip as a part of an interview with Krahe. According to right wing site HazteOir, Canal+ received more than 10,000 letters protesting about the broadcast. Now the Thomas More Law Studies Center has presented a criminal prosecution stating that broadcasting such material goes against Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code, which punishes offending religious beliefs. The court now asks Krahe to pay €192,000, and the TV channel to pay €144.000.
In the past, many Spanish artists have had to leave their country in order to make use of freedom of expression, from Luis Buñuel to Pablo Picasso and others. It's amazing that more than half a century later, things in this country haven't changed.
There's a Facebook group in support of Krahe, although you'll need to be able to read Spanish to know exactly what you're joining. It seems like a fascinating and worrying story, and I'll be asking Ismael to keep us up to date from Spain. It's interesting to see that, following the attention Ireland attracted this year with the introduction of blasphemy legislation, such laws are posing problems elsewhere in Europe. I've often wondered how European human rights legislation might conlifct with such archaic laws - for instance, I always figured the British blasphemy law was defunct even before it's removal, as a prosecution wouldn't stand up in light of human rights legislation. If anyone has any informed opinions on this, I'd be fascinated to hear them.


runlevel0 said...

Feel free to join, we can translate if necessary :)

Brett Hetherington said...

I watched the controversial video and could see the satirical value in it but could not say that I found it funny.

I think in Spain at the moment the church, and it's biggest political supporter the PP opposition, have a need to distract the public eye from their own very genuine problems.

This video fulfils that role perfectly. Why else prosecute something shown (on a relatively small audience channel) six years ago and (until now) well and truly forgotten.

I do not believe the figure of 10,000 complaint letters that Krahe's video supposedly created.

Eiskrystal said...

Perhaps one person complained 10,000 times, clearly the church doesn't have anything else to do. Well, except for attaching limpet-like to the coat tails of the world cup.