French authorities on Saturday said they would press charges against Christian fundamentalists who disrupted the showing of a controversial play at a Paris theatre.
The culture ministry said members of the Institut Civitas group ambushed a performance of Italian dramatist Romeo Castellucci’s “On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God” at the Theatre de la Ville on Thursday, brandishing placards reading “Stop Christianophobia.”
“The city of Paris and the Theatre de la Ville have decided to jointly lodge a complaint against those responsible for acts of damage… and harming freedom of creation and artistic expression,” the Paris mayor’s office on Saturday.
Theatre administrator Michael Chase said the group distributed leaflets outside the theatre before interrupting the play, which resumed after the protesters were removed by police.
On Friday, despite reinforced security, theatre-goers waiting to see the show were pelted with eggs and oil.
The theatre, where the play runs until October 30, decided to lodged a complaint, Chase said, in a bid to “defend by every means against this unacceptable attack on freedom.”
Previously showcased at a festival in Avignon in southern France, Castelluci’s work sees a son care and clean up after his incontinent father beneath a giant portrait of Jesus.
French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said the actions of the group “harmed a fundamental principal of freedom of expression protected by French law,” while conceding that “some parts of the show may shock.”
Christian protesters previously targeted a controversial work by US artist Andres Serrano on show at a contemporary art museum in Avignon.
In April two men attacked attacked the exhibit “Immersion Piss Christ,” a photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine.
The city of Paris said it strongly condemned the latest action while reaffirming its support for theatre director Emmanuel Demarcy-Mota, Castelluci and performers and staff “who despite the disruptions continue to work to put on the show in the best conditions possible.”