Artist Abel Azcona cleared of blasphemy by a judge in Spain

By Barry Duke
Freethinker (UK)
November 21, 2016

Last year performance artist Abel Azcona horrified Catholics in Pamplona, Spain, when he used 242 stolen consecrated hosts to spell out the the word ‘pederastia‘ at an exhibition he mounted in a city gallery to highlight the Church’s systematic rape of children.

According to this report, Azcona procured the Catholic crackers by pretending to receive Holy Communion at mass.

The exhibition also contained a series of photos titled “Amen”, which depict Azcona taking hosts during mass and placing them on the ground. This was meant to honour those who were kidnapped and killed under the three-decade dictatorship of Francisco Franco, which lasted until his death in 1975.

Christian Lawyers Association spokesperson Polonia Catellanos told the Catholic News Agency that the association has filed a lawsuit against Azcona for “an offence against religious sentiments and desecration”, which is outlawed under Articles 524 and 525 of the Spanish Penal Code.

Azcona, an outspoken critic of religion, was quoted as saying:

Religion is at the same level as cancer or AIDS, and in fact has killed more people than these better-known diseases.

This report says:

An equal opportunity insulter of religion, Azcona also created the controversial ‘Eating a Koran’ video in which he is shown tearing up a Koran and then eating it, page by page. For that presentation, he received death threats.

The artist, who is gay, was subsequently arrested naked on a street in Pamplona.

Well, The Friendly Atheist Hermant Mehta reported at the weekend that Azcona has now been cleared of:

Treating something sacred without due respect or using it for profane purposes.

But a judge ruled that Azcona made use of the hosts:

Discreetly, without his conduct being able to be characterised as disrespectful, offensive or irreverent.

The exhibition of the artwork, the judge ruled:

Does not constitute derision of the beliefs, rites or ceremonies of the Catholic Church nor is it an affront to those who profess or practice said beliefs.

That didn’t satisfy the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers, however, and they plan to appeal the decision and is prepared:

To go to the highest court necessary in the face of what is becoming a campaign of serious offenses against the Christian faith and religious freedom.

Mehta commented:

This is absurd. Azcona’s artwork was no more offensive to Catholics than me saying I reject their theology. What’s sacred to them is a cracker to us. And an artist’s views shouldn’t be debated in a court of law, no matter the country.

It wasn’t illegal to accept a wafer in Church, and what people do with those wafers outside of Church is their own business, even if you find it offensive.

He could rip pages out of a Bible, burn a Qur’an, do a happy dance for Satan, and all of it should be within his rights as an artist.

This isn’t a case about blasphemy. This is a case about Christians who can’t accept people not buying into their bizarre beliefs. That’s their problem, though, and no one else deserves to be punished for it.


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