Muslim leader says 'no' to controversial opera
17 December 2006, Berlin (dpa) - Another German Muslim leader declined Sunday to attend the re-staging of a controversial Berlin opera which mocks the founders of religion.
17 December 2006
Berlin (dpa) - Another German Muslim leader declined Sunday to attend the re-staging of a controversial Berlin opera which mocks the founders of religion.
In September, the Deutsche Oper theatre in Berlin cancelled Mozart's Idomeneo because of a provocative closing scene depicting the Prophet Mohammed's severed head.
But following a public outcry over bowing to pressure from Islamic radicals, the show was rescheduled for Monday evening and December 29 when it will be performed amid tight security.
Aiman Mazyek, secretary general of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said he would not attend the performance because he did not want to be used for political purposes.
"I go to the opera to relax and not to be thrown into the same pot with religion, art and politics," he told Sunday's Tagespiegel newspaper. "I am a member of a religious community, not an arts critic or responsible for matters of taste."
Last month Ali Kizilkaya, chairman of the Council of Islam, rejected an invitation from Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to attend the opera.
Schaeuble himself plans to be at Monday evening's performance along with Berlin's governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit and the federal minister in charge of cultural affairs, Bernd Neumann.
Police said they would step up security, although there had been no specific threat. Extra officers would be on duty outside the opera house and plainclothes police would mingle with the audience, said Benedikt Scherlebeck, a spokesman for Berlin city authorities.
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 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."
Subject: German news