German Muslim leader rejects invitation to opera

6th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

6 November 2006, Berlin (dpa) - A German Muslim leader declined Sunday an invitation from a government minister to join him in the audience at a controversial Berlin opera which mocks the founders of Islam and Christianity.

6 November 2006

Berlin (dpa) - A German Muslim leader declined Sunday an invitation from a government minister to join him in the audience at a controversial Berlin opera which mocks the founders of Islam and Christianity.

In September, the Deutsche Oper theatre in Berlin called off Idomeneo because of a provocative closing scene depicting the Prophet Mohammed's severed head. But following a public outcry in Germany over alleged kowtowing to Islamic radicals, the show was reinstated.

Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of the Council of Islam, has been one of the Muslim leaders who has pledged himself to free speech, but said Sunday this did not mean he was off to the opera.

"Artistic freedom does not mean you have to watch everything. Particularly not things that are in bad taste," said Kizilkaya.

He told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, "I'm convinced there are Christians too who are not happy about the portrayal of Jesus in the opera. I would have preferred a more considerate approach."

The German Interior Ministry had said Saturday that minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was paying for 15 leaders of the Islamic community to attend the opera next month. The 15 are taking part in two years of talks with the government on better treatment of German Muslims.

Schaeuble announced at a first meeting with the leaders in September that they all supported Idomeneo and had agreed to attend it. Several Muslim leaders looked staggered, but did not publicly contradict him in front of a roomful of Berlin reporters.

The anti-religion scene, not in the original Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera, was devised by director Hans Neuenfels in 2003 and shows the hero laughing at the severed heads of the Prophet Mohammed, Jesus Christ and the Buddha.

Germany's opera-loving Chancellor Angela Merkel led criticism of the cancellation, but Germany's most senior Lutheran bishop, Wolfgang Huber of Berlin, criticised the decapitation scene as "not ideal."

DPA

Subject: German news

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