Delegates at a conference of the German government and the country’s Muslim community say they would go and see an opera deemed offensive to Islam together – if it is ever staged. The declaration followed a day of talks overshadowed by the cancellation of Mozart’s Idomeneo.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has joined the cry for the Deutsche Oper to rethink its decision to drop the show. “I think the cancellation was a mistake,” she said. “I don’t think self-censorship helps us against people who want to practise violence in the name of Islam.”
The Deutsche Oper in Berlin said it was withdrawing the production, due to open in November, over concerns it could offend Muslims and provoke a security threat. First performed in 2003, one scene includes the severed heads of Poseidon, Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed. There was virtually no reaction at the time from the country’s 3.2 million Muslims. But since then has come the bloody protests sparked by the publication of Danish cartoons depicting Mohammed, and the more recent unrest provoked by Pope Benedict when he quoted a medieval text linking the spread of Islam and violence.