Violent pickets by members of Greek Neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn in Athens late on Thursday led to the cancellation of the premiere of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi at the Hytiria theatre. The scene turned violent when the picketers began scuffling with riot police, who stood by while a writer for Lifo was verbally and physically assaulted by far-right party members including a well-known Golden Dawn MP.
Already cancelled a week earlier due to pressure from the far-right parliamentary group and religious organisations, the premiere was host to politicians from SYRIZA and the Democratic Left. Nikos Bistis of Democratic Left, said that requests for a public prosecutor to come to the theater were ignored
The newspaper Kathimerini reported that three Golden Dawn Members of Parliament were among the protesters, who thew yoghurt at the building, before going on to assault writer Manolis Vamvounis who was at the scene for Lifo magazine; the testimony of whom can be read here. This comes at a time when the far-right party is enjoying success at the polls on a platform of anti-immigration, antisemitism, the tightening of blasphemy laws and discrimination against gays. The Greek parliamentary body is currently considering suspending immunity from prosecution for members of parliament in the wake of Golden Dawn MP’s violent attacks on immigrants.
McNally’s play was first stage in New York in 1998, controversial for its homoerotic themes and depiction of Jesus administering a gay marriage between two of the apostles. In June the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church moved to have the play censored, while amidst an atmosphere of increasing religious authoritarianism, Golden Dawn were reportedly behind the recent arrest and detainment of a 27 year old man for blasphemy.