10 August 2012, 16:59
Pussy Riot action would be definitely regarded as a crime in any Western country - Italian sociologist
Moscow, August 10, Interfax - Massimo Introvigne, an internationally well-known sociologist of religions, believes Pussy Riot action in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior is a crime and manifestation of xenophobia.
"Freedom of expression does not include the right to enter a cathedral and shout insults at religion, just as it does not include the right to enter a synagogue and insulting Judaism, or a mosque and insulting Islam - or even a restaurant, uttering profanities at the owner and the clients," Dr. Introvigne said in his interview with Interfax-Religion.
According to him, if words such as 'bitch' and 'shit' were used in the song performed in the church ambo, "this would be illegal under American, Italian, or European Union law".
"Assuming that what I read about the case correctly describes it, and that the group entered the cathedral in Moscow and performed a song including obscene words aimed at the Church, the Patriarch and religion - not only at political Russian figures, as some Western media have incorrectly reported - this would have been regarded as a crime under the law of any Western country," the expert stressed.
In 2011, he was the Representative of OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) for combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance and discrimination against Christians and members of other religions.
The interviewee of the agency said that if someone offended by the singer Madonna and her treatment of religion would react by singing a song "implying that she is a pedophile, Madonna would rightly act in court against such false accusations" and "she would not accept that calling her a pedophile, or simply insulting her, is something humorous or part of the freedom of expression".
"What is obvious about offenses to pop stars, other public figures, or even other religions suddenly becomes less obvious when Christianity and Christian institutions are offended. They seem to be fair game, and every conceivable offense and provocation against Christianity or the Church is regarded as a legitimate manifestation of the freedom of expression," Introvigne said.
"We have seen it in the West in the cases of alleged works of art insulting the Church, the Pope, or even Jesus Christ. And this is part of a growing Christianophobia," he is convinced.
The sociologist is also impressed with "the completely distorted image that many Western media are giving of the Russian Orthodox Church."
"The Church is portrayed as a Medieval and bigoted institution, which simply wants to protect its power. This image is completely false, and ignores the efforts of the Moscow Patriarchate to promote reconciliation and dialogue both at the national and international level. The Russian Orthodox Church's contribution to social dialogue and inter-religious dialogue is widely acknowledged," he stressed.