The Catholic Church in Croatia is calling for a ban on a controversial theater play that depicts Jesus Christ raping a Muslim woman, saying it "offends God, man and nation."
The Archdiocese of Split-Makarska has called on Croatia's Ministry of Culture to ban the play titled "Our Violence and Your Violence," which features a scene in which Jesus rapes a woman wearing a hijab after pulling a national flag from her genitals.
The play, directed by a Croatian playwright Oliver Frljic, is part of the 27th "Days of Marulic" festival, which began on Friday evening and runs through April 28. The festival was named after Croatian national poet and Renaissance humanist, Marko Marulic, whose work was heavily influenced by the Bible.
"We urge all those responsible... to make the necessary steps to activities, which are not worthy of the name of Marko Marulic and the city of Split, that [the play] does not insult people and humiliate culture," the Archdiocese said in a statement, according to Russia Today, citing a local newspaper.
The Archdiocese noted that it had received numerous complaints from its parishioners about the play. It also argued that the performance is an insult to the memory of Marulic, who is a native of Split.
Local politicians also urged residents to protest the theater play, noting that the explicit naked and violent scenes included in the performance "offended in the most brutal way the religious and moral feelings of Christians, Muslims and other Croatian citizens."
The controversial play, which was written as a critique of European attitudes towards the refugee crisis, has already been staged in Croatia and other European countries.
In 2016, Poland's conservative Law and Justice party denounced the Polish production of the performance, saying it contained "pornography and blasphemy." Frljic's work also generated controversy when it was staged in Bosnia and Herzegovina that same year.
Frljic's other play, "The Curse," also drew the ire of Catholics in the Polish city of Warsaw on Friday. The show reportedly features scenes in which oral sex is being performed on a statue of the late Pope John Paul II. The protesters tried to block the entrance to the theater, but they were dispersed by the police.
The Polish Powszechny theater stated that the play "gives the floor to various ideological positions and must be analyzed as an integral artistic work and not a set of scenes apart, unrelated."