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Pussy riot and their punk prayer

Dear Reader,

It has come to my attention that a group of radical feminist punks who call themselves “Pussy Riot” have done a punk song inside a church in Russia. This rather shocking film has appeared on youtube where these punks do their song in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. One web site claims to have a translation of the song, I have to warn you it has rather colourful langauge (disgusting swearwords).

Now I have to confess that I do not like punk rock music, but if pussy riot want to sing songs about Putin then they can do so but only if they do it in a place where they are legally allowed to do so. I have discussed this case with my legal advisor who has said that the Russian authorities are quite right to treat this “punk prayer” as a serious breach of public order.

The punk prayer is an act which is likely to have outraged public decency in Russia to the same degree as the people who used british war memorials as toilets in the UK. One student was lucky to avoid prison for such a crime. It is noteworthy that the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is a war memorial, the original building was blown up by the communists but it was rebuilt in the 1990s.

While the words of the church might be a bit shocking to many people, I do think that the members of Pussy Riot need to refrain from illegally using churchs for political stunts.

The church asked the faithful to pray for for “the correction of the defilers of holy shrines and the good name of the Church” and the “enlightenment of those left in the dark.”

This is not asking for their punishment or eternal damnation, it is a expression of a hope that Pussy Riot and other like minded people will learn not to do it again.

I think we need to think for a moment about human rights.

In my 20s I went to Brno and fell in love with the Czech Republic it is a wonderful place where I see people enjoying freedom and living their lives. One document which I admire for its beauty is the Czech “Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms” which is a written declaration of human rights in the Czech republic.

I will not be displaying the full text here but here is taste of it.

Article 3

(1) Everyone is guaranteed the enjoyment of her fundamental rights and basic freedoms without regard to gender, race, color of skin, language, faith and religion, political or other conviction, national or social origin, membership in a national or ethnic minority, property, birth, or other status.

Article 15

(1) The freedom of thought, conscience, and religious conviction is guaranteed. Everyone has the right to change her religion or faith or to be non-denominational.

Article 16

(1) Everyone has the right freely to manifest her religion or faith, either alone or in community with others, in private or public, through worship, teaching, practice, and observance.

My mind is that if Pussy Riot want to be atheists under article 15 then that is their choice, but their actions may well have interfered with the rights (article 16) of other people. The great problem I see is that a thoughtless or antisocial exercise of “my rights” may harm the interests of others and infringe their rights. We all need to excercise our rights in a responsible way !

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