SynopsisWhat is more important: freedom of opinion or respect for religions? Artists, film-makers and cartoonists take a stance on blasphemy.
Blasphemy: a highly contentious subject at a time when religions are gaining importance around the world, when they are becoming a political issue and can incite terror and violence. From the fatwa against Salman Rushdie to the terror attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, the debate about blasphemy has intensified. What is more important? Freedom of expression or respect for religious beliefs? Artists have always been accused of blasphemy if their work reinterprets religious motifs or deliberately attacks religious institutions. We examine the dispute about blasphemy in art and look back at the origins of religion in order to understand blasphemy from a historical perspective. We ask representatives of all faiths and religions about their views on blasphemy and talk to artists from different genres, such as cartoonist Kurt Westergard, who has been under police protection since the publication of his Muhammad caricatures, and Ulrich Seidl, whose films have repeatedly triggered debates about the “defamation of religions”. The Austrian artists Herrmann Nitsch and Deborah Sengl highlight social grievances in their art, using Christian symbols to do so.