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Czech movement calling itself "Decent People" fined for disrupting theatrical production

25.9.2018 9:55
Roughly 30 members of the
Roughly 30 members of the "Decent People" ("Slušní lidé") movement (in the blue t-shirts) are captured here after coming onstage to disrupt a performance of the play "Our Violence and Your Violence" performed on 26 May 2018 as part of the Theater World Festival in Brno, Czech Republic. (PHOTO: ČTK)

Members of the "Decent People" (Slušní lidé) movement have been fined a total of CZK 126 000 [EUR 4918] for their disruption in May of a Czech-language theatrical production of a play called "Our Violence, Your Violence". The Brno-střed Municipal Department has ordered 25 people be fined for contributing to what has been categorized as misdemeanor behavior.

Zdeněk Pernica, chair of the movement, told the Czech News Agency that its members have objected to the fines. In his view, "Decent People" has been the only group to object to what they saw as the desecration of the Czech flag and Czech traditions by the production.

The production featured moments such as an actress shown to be pulling the flag of the Czech Republic from her vagina, or an actor portraying Jesus Christ shown to be raping a Muslim woman. The Municipal Department previously assessed the disruption of the performance as a misdemeanor against civil coexistence, spokesperson Kateřina Dobešová said at the beginning of September.

The amount of the fines was not announced on that occasion. "In 24 cases the fine is CZK 5 000 [EUR 195] and in one case it is CZK 6 000 [EUR 234]. Why one person was fined CZK 1 000 more we actually do not know," Pernica told the Czech News Agency.

Dobešová said the higher fine was because the perpetrator committed the behavior repeatedly. Pernica said members of the movement have objected to the fines, which means an administrative proceedings, including submission of evidence, will now happen.

"We would do it again, and even more radically... we are glad to be on the side of decency like all normal people who do not want their money to be used to pay for the desecration of the flag or for Jesus to rape a Muslim woman," Pernica said. Dobešová informed the Czech News Agency that just some of those charged with the misdemeanors have objected to the fine.

"In their cases the administrative proceeding will continue. They have been summoned to give their statements about the background material submitted for the issuing of the decisions. The orders for fines that were not objected to by the deadline have now taken effect and are enforceable. The fines must be paid within 30 days from the day the orders take effect," she said.

If the fines are not paid, the local authority will being collections proceedings. The theatrical production sparked outrage and a wide-ranging public discussion.

Cardinal Dominik Duka and Czech President Miloš Zeman both criticized the production. The Cardinal filed a lawsuit against the National Theater Brno, which organized the festival featuring the controversial play, as well as the Center for Experimental Theater, which provided the venue for the actual staging.

A criminal report was filed against the "Decent People" movement by former Constitutional Court Justice Eliška Wagnerová, who is currently a Senator. The police received about 20 criminal reports associated with the controversial play and its disruption but did not find any of them to constitute a felony.

Duka also did not like another play on the festival bill, "Prokletí" ("The Curse"), in which a statue reminiscent of Pope John Paul II with an erect penis was featured. The staging of both plays was accompanied by conjectures from politicians about the amount of public funding contributed to the productions, as well as by protests.

The festival was ultimately financially supported by the City of Brno and the Regional Authority. Organizers allocated that funding to all plays on the program with the exception of the two which were considered so offensive.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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