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Home > Politics

WAWIBF... Fundiphobia

1 October 2006

On Tuesday the Deutsche Oper in Berlin - one of the finest opera houses in the whole of the world, apparently - announced its decision not to stage a production of Mozart’s 'Idomeneo’. The reason being that this particular interpretation of the opera, by director Hans Neuenfels, features the decapitated heads of Poseiden, Buddha, Jesus Christ and - you guessed it - the Prophet Mohammed! Again! You can’t move for the Prophet Mohammed these days. He is *such* a media whore.

The opera house, helped along by Germany's Office of Criminal Investigation, who tipped them off that disruptions could not be ruled out, decided that in the face of possible recriminations, the show must not go on and heads, sadly, will not roll. Not this time.

And the horrible thing is - they're probably right. It is nowhere near beyond the realms of possibility that an opera featuring the Prophet Mohammed’s head creeping around boards like a stray coconut might very well lead to violence. We know how touchy these Fundies can be after all. But should the opera have been cancelled?

No, it should not.

There are three and a half million Muslims in Germany. Of those, how many are mentally ill enough to go ape at an opera? Like everyone else, we have no idea. Somewhere between ten and ten thousand is our rough estimate. But of course, it only takes one psycho Fundie to shoot a nun, say, or stab a concert violinist through the heart, or blow up a music shop. However, even if all three and a half million were quite likely to go on the rampage, it really shouldn’t matter. They’d still be wrong. And the show should - indeed, *must* - still go on. Otherwise, it's a slippery slope. One moment we're pre-emptively censoring our operas for fear of insane repercussions, the next we're stoning our wives for showering naked. The whores.

Of course, it’s very easy for us to sit here coming over all moderate-Islamophobe-cum-heroic-freedom-fighter. We wouldn’t have suffered if the opera house had gone up in flames. No. We’d have sat here and made jokes about it. So we know it’s a lot easier to say 'we must fight these lunatics and their bombs and their bullets and their knives and their tiny little minds’ than it is to actually fight, and in so doing to knowingly put yourself and others at risk.

Doesn’t alter the fact though, that if we start living our lives differently, less honestly, because we’re afraid of the reprisals of the insane, then... well, we’re fucked.

So... it’s MOHAMMED 1, MOZART 0 and it’s goodbye from Berlin, where everyone’s feeling just a little bit sick, and just a little bit dirty.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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